Fen Farm Dairy – 

The home of BAron Bigod

We are Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore. Alongside our dedicated team, we have spent the last 10 years growing our 3rd generation British family farm from small family business, to globally respected artisan cheese and dairy producer.

Our love of the USA and appreciation of its growing artisan food culture means we are delighted to now also be selling our cheese in the USA too!

With Neal’s Yard Dairy by our side, our journey across the Atlantic began in earnest in 2023. We have worked hard to ensure that Baron Bigod always arrives in the USA on deliciously top form, despite the long journey, and are delighted to already have developed relationships with many top cheesemongers. We would love to add your business to the list!

I'd like some Baron Bigod

Our story

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We had always been just a normal dairy farm, selling normal milk to normal British supermarkets.

Then, on a rainy August day in 2011, we met a hen farmer who changed our lives. It was nothing extraordinary. He was just selling his eggs by his gate, as you do. A rusty old honesty tin with a stone on top. But sometimes it’s the unremarkable things that get you thinking. Why don’t dairy farmers sell their milk this way?

Within a month, our cow-print shed was installed and our first 30 bottles of raw cow’s milk went on sale. A jam jar honesty box with a stone on top. Those 30 bottles sold out within the hour, the final customer guzzling the whole bottle on the spot and requesting a refill. We learnt that people came back to the shed because of the high quality of our milk and the experience of having a personal connection to the farm.

As sales grew, the honesty box sadly became a dishonesty box. A chance tweet from a friend in Italy introduced us to the concept of milk vending and within weeks we had installed the UK’s first raw milk vending machine. This had a transformative effect on the success of our farm. Seeing our customers enjoying our product had become a true enjoyment for us. It got us thinking once again…

How could we make more of our milk into products that we could sell directly to people who would really and truly enjoy them?

In 2012, we embarked on a research tour of the UK and Europe. We learned from some of the world’s finest cheesemakers and purchased by hand 72 beautiful Montbéliarde milking cows from the Jura region of France. Their milk was highly prized for cheesemaking on the continent.

A year later our first cheese, Baron Bigod, went on sale and has been followed over the years by our raw butter, skyr yoghurt and many more products. Our products can now be found in the finest delis, restaurants and cheese counters in the UK and around the world. 

Naughty, decadent & creamy…it’s got that wonderful balance of ooziness from the outside and then fudginess in the middle.

Jamie Oliver / Baron Bigod Fan

To not have this on our counter would be a travesty.

Lisa Goodchild / The Cotswold Cheese Co.

Baron Bigod…may well be Britain’s greatest soft cheese.

Grace Dent / Guardian Food

What’s different about Baron Bigod?

Our secrets?

Most cheese and dairy produce is made away from the farm. It’s actually surprisingly rare to find a business today that controls the whole process from start to finish. These are our 3 secrets:

Control

We grow our own forage and grazing right here in the surrounding landscape. We care for every cow in our herd as an individual and we care for our precious milk from the moment it leaves the cow.  What we take from the land we then put back again. We call this circular farming.

Proximity

Within minutes of the morning milking, our fresh milk is already in the making rooms just a few metres away. Within hours it is being made into cheese and butter. Our milk doesn’t spend time being transported meaning our produce retains all the incredible characteristics of our fresh milk.

Gentleness

Our unique set up allows our milk to be gently gravity fed from the milking parlour into the making rooms next door. We choose to make our produce by hand, avoiding the use of big industrial dairy equipment. No piece of machinery can imitate the gentleness of a true artisan, who really cares.

Our unique herd

Our happy herd of Montbeliarde cows graze the fertile marshland of the Waveney River Valley and are part of a delicate ecosystem. 

The Archers
The Archers

Our unique herd

Our happy herd of Montbeliarde cows graze the fertile marshland of the Waveney River Valley and are part of a delicate ecosystem.

Sustainability Focus

We became 100% renewable energy powered in autumn 2023 and our goal is to reach greenhouse negative emissions by 2030.

Who loves Baron Bigod?

Baron Bigod can be found on the menus of top restuarants and chefs around the country and has graced the tables of great British institutions and Royal events.

Who was Baron Bigod?

Our cheese is named after Baron Hugh Bigod, a French nobleman who arrived on British soil in 1066 with William d’Orange (AK William the Conqueror). After a successful conquest of Britain, the new King William made Hugh a Baron and gifted him most of East Anglia. Hugh set about building his dream castle on the picturesque River Waveney at Bungay.

The ruins of Baron Bigod’s castle still stand to this day, overlooking our farm. Our cows graze today on those same fertile river marshlands that the castle livestock would once have grazed, over 1000 years ago.

Making Baron Bigod

The quality of our cheese today is the result of a decade of learning. Follow us inside our cheese making rooms to discover the secrets behind our award-winning Baron Bigod Brie.

1

Early in the morning when our milk is still warm and fresh from the milking parlour, it heads directly into the cheese making building next door. What makes our process so unique is that we gently feed the milk into our cheesemaking vats via gravity. This avoids using pumps, which would destroy the flavour and integrity of the delicate milk.

2
The milk is gently heat-treated. Next, Head cheesemaker Marc ads carefully selected strains of lactic bacteria to the milk. These live cultures quickly begin to acidify the milk, to start the cheesemaking process.
3

During the early stages of the cheesemaking process, we keep testing the milk temperature and acidity levels. This is incredibly important to make sure the cheese is a consistent product every time.

4

Once the milk meets the desired acidity, we gravity feed it into a series of small vats, ready for renneting.

5
Once we have calculated the precise amount of rennet required, we stir it into the milk. The natural enzymes in the rennet begin to coagulate the milk.
6

Within a precisely calculated window, the rennet transforms the milk into a firm jelly, called curd.

7

The pH and firmness of the curd are carefully monitored. By watching the curd closely, the cheesemaking team know exactly when to cut the curd. Precise cuts are made in the jelly-like curd, to allow the whey (liquid part of the milk) to escape from the curd (solid part of the milk).

8
As the whey escapes, it forms a deep puddle on top of the curd, which we carefully skim from the top of the vats.
9

The real skill in our cheesemaking process and what we believe makes it so artisanal, is the human element. No machine can emulate this level of care and attention. At this stage of the cheesemaking, we carefully hand-ladle all the curd in small layers into hoop-shaped moulds.

10

A great deal of care and focus is invested at this stage to make sure every single cheese has the right quality and quantity of curd added to the hoops.

11
Over the next few hours, we turn the cheeses over in their hoops to allow the correct level of drainage and to create the shape of the finished cheese. By 9:30pm, the working day is done but the cheesemaking process continues into the next day.
12

At 5am on day 2, we de-hoop the cheeses and after a moisture test and recording of weight, we sprinkle a carefully measured quantity of salt onto both sides of each cheese.

13
Once salted, the cheese begins its maturing process. Over the following few days, each cheese will be hand-turned daily in a warm room, to allow the moulds to develop evenly.
14
By about day 4, little specks of white mould begin to form on the cheese surfaces. In the coming days, the cheese grows more and more of the white mould which is called Penicillium Candidum. Other moulds and yeasts that are native only to our farm and have come in through the air vents or have established in the maturing rooms over time, also begin to grow.
15
We are very careful about how we wash the maturation rooms and walls, as so many of the unique flavours and characteristics of our cheese come from the environment around the farm. We don’t want to disturb the balance!
16
Once the cheeses are fully covered in white mould, we then wrap each one in waxed paper and place it in special poplar wood boxes. The boxes play a very important part in the maturation of the cheese, as they help create the right environment for the moulds to break down the curd of the cheese into all that delicious gooeyness.
17
Throughout the maturation stages, we taste-test the cheeses at certain ages to check that the maturation is going to plan (it’s a hard life). During these taste tests, we also make decisions about where and when each batch of cheese will be sold, depending on our customers’ requirements.
18
Several weeks later, the cheeses are now ready to be eaten. The gooeyness and flavours intensify when the cheese is left at room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour before eating.

Adding Truffle to Baron Bigod

For the ultimate in cheesy decadence, we have Truffle Baron Bigod. It is the same delicious Baron Bigod with an extra twist!

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A small selection of young Baron Bigod cheeses are selected to become Truffled Baron Bigods!
20
A cheese is sliced and a filling of our homemade mascarpone, infused with the finest black truffles is sandwiched between the two halves.
21
The last week of maturation blends the cheese and truffle-infused mascarpone ready for an even greater taste explosion when finally cut and served.