WHO THEY ARE
Roger and Mary Mead started their family farm in 1961, with just 35 cows and a few sheep. Today, the farm employs more than 1,000 people and is home to about 11,000 cows. The Mead family’s ancestors first started farming in the county of Somerset in South West England in the 1400s. The land in the Yeo Valley (yes – it’s a real place!) is damp and fertile – ideal for cows.
In 2011, Mary Mead and her son Tim celebrated the family’s 50-year anniversary in the valley, winning the farm’s third Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development and the Good Dairy Award from Compassion in World Farming.
WHAT THEY DO
Yeo Valley’s milk comes from its own herd of British Friesian cows and from the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative, which supports other British family farms. The ‘Yeoganic’ philosophy means that everyone at Yeo Valley goes the extra mile to look after the land, animals, and planet. The Meads breed their own cows, and each of Yeo Valley’s 11,000 British Friesians has a name and a very detailed family tree. Because organic cows need organic feed, the farm’s cows graze on grass and clover in the fields.
The cows are milked twice a day, at 4.30am and 4pm. Relaxed, happy cows give the most milk, so not only do all the Meads’ cows roam free, but each milking cow also gets its own sleeping quarters complete with a comfy mattress. Each cow’s diet is nutritionally balanced and, unlike some other farms, Yeo Valley cows are not given drugs like antibiotics routinely. If a cow is feeling under the weather, she will be removed from the milking herd until she’s better and there is no trace of any medication in her milk.
Everyone at the Yeo Valley farm is committed to sustainability. Yeo Valley’s dairies are nestled among woodlands that attract native wildlife. Quick-growing trees like poplars are planted to provide carbon-neutral fuel for the farm’s wood-burning stoves, and elephant grass is used as a sustainable biofuel for the boiler. All yoghurt pots are made from recycled plastic. Farm waste like cardboard and shrink-wrap is recycled, and in its mission to use fewer fossil fuels, Yeo Valley chooses 100 per cent green electricity for its dairies. Photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Holt Farm Dairy convert sunlight directly into electricity, with the potential to generate enough energy to power 140 houses for a year, while a field of solar panels powers the milk bottling plant.
TRY THE PRODUCTS
Today, Yeo Valley has grown to be the UK’s number one organic dairy brand, and Spinneys has partnered with the company to supply cream, Greek-style and natural yoghurts, butter and milk.
To read more about Yeo Valley, visit yeovalley.co.uk.