BBC Food and Farming Award Finalists – Our Cow Molly
Since 2000, the BBC Food and Farming awards has been celebrating the best of Britain’s producers and food businesses. Now there are ten categories, with new ones being added in recent years to reflect our changing our food culture.
One of those extra ones to be included this year is the Future Food Award – and guess what? Sheffield’s Our Cow Molly has been announced as a finalist in that category!
Based in Dungworth, Our Cow Molly is a family-run dairy farming business (est.1947). They are passionate about their fresh, local milk and they’ve campaigned for fairer milk pricing and given us our ice cream fix. To be nationally recognised is great news for them and the city.
For the Future Food category the judges were looking for ‘…cutting-edge innovation and pioneering work that could influence how the UK’s food will be grown, distributed and sold in future. This award is for an ambitious and ground-breaking idea found within the food supply chain; from initiatives by national retailers and major food and drink manufacturers to new models being put into practice by farmers and producers.’
Julia Glotz, Managing editor of The Grocer magazine and Mike Gooding, Managing Director of FAI Farms, the judges for this category, have recently been to the farm to see the work first hand and no doubt have a taste too! Now, the final judging is taking place and the overall winners will be announced at an event in Bristol on 28 April. So fingers crossed….
Our Cow Molly’s, Eddie Andrew gives the lowdown on the work they’ve been doing with Sheffield University (it’s all about the f word!) and shares how it feels to be recognised in the BBC Food and Farming Awards.
How does it feel to be a finalist?
It’s amazing to be a finalist, we have always known that what we are doing with University of Sheffield (UOS) is pioneering and we have Gavin and Peter to thank for that.
They’ve always supported the idea of the UOS having milk direct from our dairy farm and now it’s been seen nationally as a future supply chain. The fact that our small family dairy farm is going up against the global giant of McDonalds (a fellow finalist in the category for their beef carbon project) is just unreal.
Tell us more about your work with the university?
It’s really simple, the university cafes order their milk at the end of the day, we milk our cows then bottle the right amount of milk through the night. We load it on our vans first thing and deliver it to the university cafes so it’s #SuperFreshMilk. The milk travels just 3 miles away to the cafes that serve the coffee!
How did this come about ?
Gavin Brown from UOS saw our ice-cream tubs displayed as a Made in Sheffield producer in a cabinet in the Town Hall. He bought a tub from Beanies, loved the quality and gave us a call. After a visit to the farm, plus a few meetings, the UOS started having our ice-cream. Then after seeing just what a difference using fresher milk makes when steamed for coffee, they soon chose our milk too! Using #SuperFreshMilk is as vast a difference as freeze-dried coffee is to a fresh ground espresso.
Where did the idea come from and what are the benefits?
The idea of #SuperFreshMilk came about when I dropped off a bottle for Jon at Tamper coffee to try, this was back in the day when Westfield Terrace had only just opened. I explained that it had come fresh from our cows on that day and left if for them to try.
A few hours later I called to ask if we could deliver it for their coffees, from then it became apparent what a huge difference that our milk made to the taste and silkiness of steamed milk in coffee.
The fresher the milk, the better quality the protein is and the protein is the key to the microfilm, the natural sweeteners in milk. This also deteriorates after a few days, so we discovered we had the best milk for coffee shops and soon did UOS.
The #SuperFreshMilk name came about by me doing a sketch of a milk bottle with a cape on, he was going to be our comic book hero, it’s still on the to do list!
Why is it innovative?
It probably isn’t really, since 1947 we have delivered milk for Sheffield folk, first ladling it out from a churn, then in glass bottles with cardboard lids and then later with foil lids. We always focused on getting the milk to our customers as fresh as we could and continue to do so.
The world has changed around us and now milk is mixed together from thousands of different cows and shipped all over the country. It’s days old before you can buy it and as it gets older it loses it’s value, so the supermarkets have to sell it cheap. I’m not sure folk always realise why milk is a really good deal.
How do you promote Sheffield’s finest milk?
Pre-April 2009 we didn’t really do any promotion, we just quietly worked away, Then we joined Twitter and 44,000 tweets later here we are, having been on BBC Countryfile, won national awards and gained lots of press because of it. It’s hard to believe we have been tweeting for 7 years!!!
I even got to speak at the National Farmers Union NFU national conference as a social media farmer expert !
How did the visit go from the BBC Food and Farming judges?
The visit went great and they recorded the whole process from cow to making a UOS coffee.
Where McDonalds are being judged on a small aspect of their business (just the beef supply), this is about judging our entire business. We really want to win as much to raise this idea with every other UK university that they should use the milk produced in their own city!
What is the plan if you win the BBC Food and farming award? How will you celebrate?
Gavin, Peter and Gareth from UOS are coming to the awards night, so it’s going to be great to be down there with folk who have been incredible champions of us as dairy farmers and really value the product we produce. This is the recognition of years of work that we’ve jointly been doing and I hope we can all swap our usual coffees for champagne!
What’s all this about the Co-operative food?
We were approached by them to supply Sheffield stores as part of their ‘Truly Local’ initiative earlier in the year and have been quietly working towards that ever since.
I guess they saw that the judges were visiting from our tweets and called to say it was all going ahead, and could we could mention it to our judge, Julia Glotz, managing editor of the Grocer magazine.
It was perfect timing as it gave us even more credibility against the category we were being judged for. I guess some PR in the Grocer magazine will be great for the Co-op’s new initiative too.
What’s next for Our Cow Molly? Other than world domination…
As long as you realise that Sheffield is our world, you probably quite right. We are still working on our butter, we spent two months getting the ice-cream right, so we don’t rush things.
We are working on flavoured milk using fruit puree, which we have pretty much nailed and is really special. All you can get now is UHT milk with long-life flavourings, so I think folk will really love fresh milk with real fruit. We just need to sort out the packing and labels before it’s retail-ready but before then it will be available from the farm’s ice-cream parlour.
Listen to Radio 4’s BBC Food Programme to hear the story of the finalists.
Our Cow Molly
Cliffe House Farm,
Hill Top Rd,
Date for your diary – Open Farm Sunday – 5 June
It’s going to be the most ambitious event for Our Cow Molly as they have teamed up with the P3 project at University of Sheffield for the #PasturePot. It is all about growing a field / pasture to feed the cows who produce the milk.