Award winning cheesemaker expands with LEADER grant

Long Wittenham based cheesemaker Norton & Yarrow are expanding, thanks to a grant from Oxfordshire LEADER, an EU funded grant programme whose mission is to support projects that will boost the rural economy.

Fraser Norton and Rachel Yarrow are the couple behind the cheese brand, whose soft goats’ cheese “Sinodun Hill” just keeps winning awards, including ‘Best New Cheese’ at the Artisan Cheese Awards in April 2017, and a Gold Medal at the British Cheese Awards in 2016. They also wowed the judges at the recent 2017 Great British Cheese Awards, winning ‘Best New Cheese Producer’.

Award winning cheesemakerCheesemaker Rachel Yarrow receiving the ‘Best New Cheese Producer’ award

‘It feels brilliant – we weren’t expecting it at all,’ said Rachel Yarrow. ‘All the other producers in the category were fantastic. My husband Fraser and I are really obsessed with cheese, and a lot of our conversations in the evening usually revolve around it. We look at every tiny detail when it comes to making it, too – I think that’s why we won this award.’ The cheese is created with a herd of purebred Anglo Nubian goats, described as the ‘Jersey Cow’ of the goat world for their creamy milk.

Over summer Fraser and Rachel have been planning a new micro creamery just next to where the goats are milked. The couple currently make cheese at Nettlebed Creamery, however the 8 mile journey there every day is not practical, so the dream has been to get the goats and the cheese making all on one site.

Last month Norton and Yarrow found out that their application for funding had been successful, and LEADER has awarded a grant of £33,573, that’s 40 per cent of the project costs. Work has already started and there is currently a concrete pad for the two converted shipping containers (which will become cheese making and ageing rooms) to sit on. Over three years the project should create 3.5 full time jobs and boost the South Oxfordshire economy with a £70,263 wage bill increase.

Oxfordshire LEADER has £1.55m to grant before March 2019, with grants of up to £100,000 available, why not get in touch and see if you are eligible?

LEADER is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).