……..and that is how KPM likes its producers. Ian and Liz have been with us since the inception of the market in 2009. Their produce has diversified from fruit and vegetables to cheese making and citrus growing, the latter used to make their own marmalade. Their cheerfulness and knowledge of their products ensures a discerning and expanding band of loyal followers who share their enthusiasm and joy in what they do.
From a single saucepan in 2009, cheese production has progressed from a bain-marie, to a commercial sized vat with the aid of a thermoprobe and laptop. A sophisticated & technologically savvy business, every detail of the creative process is logged, the information being used to modify and improve the finished product.
To enter the cheese making facilities we swapped our outdoor footwear for a pair of tasteful orange and blue slippers from IKEA. The temperature-controlled storeroom contained a surprisingly large number of cheeses at different stages of maturity stacked up on shelving, all made by Ian. They include those made from goats milk, cows milk and a combination of both. The range of cheeses has developed from the original Kempley Vale, to Crofters, Rustic and the latest, Minos – a feta like cheese.
A tour of the operation sees an intriguing mixed economy.
Three ‘senior’ chickens chat to each other in the orchard. Each hen has produced and average of 660 eggs from Xmas day 2013 to Xmas day 2015. A range of indoor and outdoor fig trees have been joined by some new espaliered pear trees and young apple trees. Olive trees, which originally lived in the large greenhouses, now thrive outside in the orchard.Raised beds are being systematically replaced with improved spacing and sizing. Spinach is sprouting up everywhere (good for macular degeneration – a useful tip). The vegetable store is ordered by the use of recycled plastic crates for which Ian has made shelving, to enable them to slide in and out of with ease. A few rows of apple juice (for their own consumption) sit next to the stored apples.
From the original commercial greenhouses requiring considerable time and energy, Liz and Ian have been future proofing their business to create smaller more manageable units. Self-sufficiency is the hallmark of their approach; from simple rainwater collection tanks and manual watering systems, to solar panels providing the majority of their power. Their back up and electric storage systems ensure cheese production is not compromised by power cuts.
Their passion and enthusiasm for what they do is evident, as is their commitment to exploring new possibilities and means of production. Their ingeniousness and unending curiosity will enable them, and KPM customers, to continue enjoying their business well into the future.