Friars Farm is opening a shop at Phipps NBC in Kingswell Street on Fridays. The award winning preserve maker is using the opening to unveil two new businesses to the world: The Northampton Cheese Company and The Northampton Charcuterie Company.
Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rachel Mallows will be carrying out the opening at 11am on November 13.
Steve Reid of Friars Farm said the idea of moving into cheese production first emerged two years ago.
“It was something we discussed with Christine, [formerly from Neneview Dairy] when she was looking at retiring however, due to COVID, it wasn’t able to materialise at that time. When things got a bit better, we looked at it further and realised it would be ideal for us so we went ahead with it.
“We also thought it was important to bring the names and styles of cheese back that she used to do, such as Togglers, a style of Lancashire cheese, and Skyver, a double Gloucester style. However, we are now using organic local pasteurised cows’ milk in order to make it different to anyone else in the local area.
“Charcuterie has always been a hobby of mine, and when I saw how businesses were struggling to get certain products due to Brexit, for example, I knew that there was a market there and decided to expand that way.”
Steve is using Park End Farming at Crick for their free-range pork, another local farm for their organic pasteurised cows’ milk, and fridges from Angel Refrigeration at Pottersbury, to continue his buy local theme.
Steve, a former Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards Local Food Hero winner, believes that supporting as many local businesses with his new ventures is really important for his future success.
Not only have their new products been a hit, Friars Farm are also double gold winners in the Artisan Product of the Year category of the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2021/2022, with their Friars Farm ‘Blueberry Jam’ and Jeyes of Earls Barton’s ‘Northamptonshire Jeyes Sauce’ which Steve helped to recreate. Friars Farm ‘Chili Jam’ is also a bronze winner in the Vegetarian/Vegan category; some incredible achievements following a tough 18 months.
Steve has been developing his business with the support of the FEAST2 project, making the most of the services available, to enhance business success. This project is led by the Food & Drink Forum, in partnership with The Mallows Company. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and offers a range of useful services to food and drink manufacturers including grant funding, business mentoring, industry events and technical support.
When asked how business had been in the previous 18 months he said: “In March when COVID hit, it was really hard as the leisure and hospitality industry shut down – it affected us massively. We changed our business models with the help of FEAST2 and MIN, which has helped enormously. We created a better online presence and with the launch of the Jeyes Northamptonshire Sauce, business has improved massively.
“When setting up the new businesses, the FEAST2 team have been so helpful with the grant for the equipment we needed and mentoring. When you take the step from one business to three businesses, you really need that support and guidance, and I found it extremely beneficial.
“The FEAST2 project helped us a lot with technical support, which is what we have found the most useful. They have given us guidance with regard to new legislation that has recently been implemented. I would absolutely recommend FEAST2 to other food and drink manufacturers. One piece of advice is that producers need to really look into what is on offer to them, as it isn’t just financial- there are so many other forms of support available they just need to pick up the phone and ask. It will be worth it!”
When asked if he has any more future plans for the business, Steve laughed and said “we have three businesses now and we want to focus on making them as successful as they can be, but it isn’t stopping us creating new partnerships to grow our market.”
A motto that Steve stands by is to ‘never give up’. “Taking the business from where it was originally, to where it is now, I can say that you are always going to have people who dismiss what you are doing, but if you believe in your own work then that is all that matters, stick to it!”For more details of FEAST2, including registering your business for the free support on offer, please contact Amanda Askew at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org