Welcome to the Love Your Local Larder Podcast! A podcast that celebrates local produce with the people who cook and grow it.
In this episode, we're thrilled to introduce Mossgiel Farm, and its founder, Bryce Cunningham. We'll delve into the world of sustainable farming, community dedication and the delectable flavours that emerge when passion meets purpose. Mossgiel is renowned for its pasture-fed milk and cream products which boast exceptional quality and rich flavours while minimising their impact on the environment. Join us as we unravel the remarkable journey of a business that embraces the essence of supporting local and cherishes the rich flavours of our own communities.
Mossgiel Farm has been in Bryce's family for generations. However, Bryce never envisioned himself in the family business until a series of unfortunate events - his father and grandfather's sudden passing and a devastating milk price collapse - left him in charge of the farm. Faced with the reality that the business was no longer viable under supermarket contracts, Bryce took a courageous step. He decided to transition to organic farming, focus on local sales and adopt sustainable dairy farming practices.
Photo by: @mossgiel.farm
Intrigued by the incredible things we heard about Mossgiel Farm's innovative farming methods, we decided we had to interview them. Thankfully, they agreed, and we set out to make the trip from Edinburgh to Mossgiel Farm located in Mauchline, East Ayrshire. Despite the typical Scottish weather which greeted us we were not disheartened, as all we could think about was sampling their delicious sought-after milk for ourselves. Upon arrival, we had the pleasure of meeting some of the employees who shared a common vision for Mossgiel's future - a future that could potentially redefine dairy farming. After our discussions, we realised that we better get on with the podcast. And most importantly, taste their products!
Listen to the full podcast episode here...
So what sets Mossgiel's milk apart from the supermarket offerings? They produce non-homogenised, non-standardised, batch-pasteurised, brewed, organic milk. It may sound complex but let's break it down.
Homogenisation, a process used in supermarket milk, destroys the cream structure of the milk to prevent separation on the shelf. Mossgiel's non-homogenised milk is more easily absorbed by the body, allowing the vitamins in the cream to be better absorbed as well. Research suggests that this milk is notably rich in vitamin K3 and omega 3 and 6, clearly demonstrating it's a cut above the rest. Mossgiel firmly believes that non-homogenisation is the way forward as it is the natural, healthier choice with a taste that outshines supermarket milk. Standardisation, on the other hand, involves removing all the cream from the milk before adding just enough back in to call it "whole" milk. Mossgiel keeps all that cream in, resulting in a tastier product with minimal processing - a milk that's as close to its natural form as possible. Furthermore, Mossgiel embraces the traditional approach of low and slow brewing, allowing for batch-pasteurised milk, a method which heats the milk gradually and at a lower temperature. This ensures that the pasteurisation process preserves any healthy proteins and vitamins as well as retaining the milk's flavour. Lastly, Mossgiel produces organic milk, meaning the grass is grown without the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers, and the cows exclusively consume this organic feed. This environmentally friendly approach not only benefits the planet but also ensures clean, pure milk for consumers. In summary, 'The Mossgiel Way' of producing milk guarantees clean, healthy milk in its most natural form with a rich and creamy taste. A win-win all round!
Photo by: @mossgiel.farm
Now you might be wondering about the taste of Mossgiel Milk. During our interview, we had the pleasure of sampling both the Whole and Semi-Skimmed Milk, packaged in nostalgic glass bottles reminiscent of the old days of doorstep milk deliveries. As we conversed, beads of condensation had formed on the bottles, making us even more eager to have a taste. With the foil caps popped open, we finally tasted the whole milk first. It was a revelation, even for someone not particularly fond of milk like myself - it was rich, creamy, sweet and wholesome, akin to vanilla ice cream. Next, we tried the semi-skimmed milk which tasted refreshingly light and sweet - again delicious! We were shocked at how good milk could taste.
As well as producing flavourful milk, Mossgiel Farm prioritises environmental responsibility. Bryce firmly believes in working with nature rather than against it in order to produce food sustainably. This commitment is reflected in their organic and regenerative farming practices, no-till farming approach, renewable technology use and electric delivery vans. Impressively, they were also the first dairy farm in the UK to go single-use plastic free, offering all their milk in reusable containers. Moreover, Mossgiel aims to achieve Net Zero status by 2025.
Mossgiel Farm also recognises the value of collaboration among organic dairy farms. As their milk gained popularity, they realised they couldn't meet the demand sustainably on their own. This led to the establishment of a co-operative with other local organic dairy farms, ensuring fair prices for milk within the community. Additionally, they secured a contract to provide every school in East Ayrshire council with their wholesome milk. This partnership with other farmers and the local council has brought more organic produce to communities, allowing consumers to join the 'grass to glass' journey.
Photo by: @mossgiel.farm
Animal welfare holds a prominent place at Mossgiel Farm. They even have a dedicated "cow happiness manager", Elizabeth, responsible for ensuring the well-being, comfort and health of the cows. Mossgiel has invested time and effort into "cow with calf" dairying. This approach stands in contrast to conventional dairy farming, where calves are often separated from their mothers shortly after birth. This ethical approach to dairy farming and animal welfare leads to happier and more relaxed cows and the opportunity to produce cow-with-calf milk.
Mossgiel Farm embodies the essence of sustainable organic dairy farming. Their commitment to quality, environmental responsibility, and community collaboration shines through in every aspect of their operation. By producing milk 'The Mossgiel Way', they are offering a natural and wholesome product that stands out in taste and health benefits. Beyond milk, their dedication to the environment, animal welfare and community support sets a remarkable example for the future of farming. Bryce's holistic approach where taste, ethics and sustainability coexist, serves as a beacon of inspiration. It's a dedication to a better way of farming that benefits everyone involved. Mossgiel Farm reminds us that by nurturing the land, the animals and the community, we can truly create something extraordinary.