Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar
Located near the Ceredigion coast, Bwlchwernen Fawr has been a home to Patrick Holden since the early seventies when he first established the area as a mixed community farm. A leading figure in the Soil Association and more recently the Sustainable Food Trust, Holden's subsequent influence on British farming has been considerable. However, cheese wasn't made on the farm until after 2005 when a timely visit by the Specialist Cheesemakers Association sparked an idea.
The SCA believed milk from native breeds raised organically could produce outstanding cheese. They wanted to educate their members and Holden’s farm was the perfect place for such an opportunity. Following the visit by the SCA, Holden’s son, Sam took on the project under the guidance of family friend Dougal Campbell and the rest is cheese-making history.
Welsh for summer pasture, Hafod - pronounced Havod - is a firm cheddar-style made from the raw milk of the farm's eighty-odd Ayrshire cows. An efficient grazer and well-suited to the Welsh terrain, the breed also produces a milk rich in butterfat and protein, making it ideal for cheesemaking. Like many traditional cheddars, young wheels of Hafod are wrapped in cloth and covered with a thin layer of lard to protect them. They are then aged ten to eighteen months.
With a firm texture, Hafod has a distinctively rich, earthy flavour – a direct reflection of the lush and healthy pastures enjoyed by the family's cows. The occasional veins of blue mold decorating its buttery, golden-yellow paste are a particularly special treat and the mark of a clothbound done right.
Certified organic since 1973, Bwlchwernen Fawr is the longest standing registered organic dairy farm in Wales. Thanks to Patrick Holden's steadfast commitment to working in harmony with nature, Hafod is a truly special cheese that shows small scale, organic dairies can still be viable - and rewarding - farming.