Farmers: Bradfields Farm Dairy
Only 10 miles from the M25, this is one of the few small farm dairies left around London, and one of the last remaining in Essex. Rebecca Tyers from London Farmers’ Markets catches up with the family.
The Lambert family have been farming just outside Basildon, near the village of North Benfleet, for three generations, just short of 100 years. With just 250 acres, the Lamberts tend and milk their 120 cows in a very traditional way. The cows graze the lush green grass most of the year and the farm grows as much of their own barley and maize as they can to feed the cows and make indoor bedding for the cows in winter. It’s a 3.30am start each morning to milk the ‘girls’ and it’s still very much a family farm with mum, dad and three daughters all involved in farm enterprises.
The Farm Dairy is the latest innovation and is run by Clare, the youngest of the three Lambert sisters, and her husband John. After some time away from the farm Clare wanted to get involved again, with the hope of generating enough income to support the farm through what she calls “very tough times for the industry.”
Small but perfectly formed
A full range of milk, cream, yoghurts and cheese are produced by hand in the small but perfectly formed dairy. The milk is pasteurised, in the bottle within three hours of the cows being milked and on sale the next morning. Pasteurisation helps retain a more natural flavour, and it is not homogenised so you still get the cream on the top! Clare also added that “we are careful not to over-pasteurise, keeping as much goodness in the milk as possible.” The cream they sell separately is extra thick and has a higher fat content than supermarket cream.
To try and reduce plastic, the farm is piloting a glass bottle return scheme which will be available at markets soon. Yoghurts are the latest addition to their products, including thick Greek-style and probiotic drinking yoghurts.
‘It is wonderful to be able to talk directly to the people buying our milk’
Shop for a drop
The farm sells their products through local shops and markets in Essex and is expanding into London. You can find them weekly at the Sunday farmers’ market in Blackheath, from 10am - 2pm. Clare says that “the farmers’ markets are a key part of our approach as it is wonderful to be able to talk directly to the people buying our milk, cream and other products.”
While the farm may be too busy to run a farm shop on site, they have a selection of vending machines and a fully-automated farm shop dispensing their entire range of products. So if you are passing by, drop in and pull yourself a pint of the white stuff.