As cheeseboards are planned and Christmas trees adorned, the celebrations have already begun at Home Farm, as Quicke’s marks its 45th anniversary. Many seasons have passed and truckles been traded since the first cheese left the dairy in 1973, but the Devon-based cheesemaker continues to be guided by tradition, innovation and respect for the land that the Quicke family has nurtured for almost 500 years.
Beginning in the early 1970s as milk prices fell, Mary Quicke’s parents, Sir John and Prudence Quicke, became inspired by the cheesemakers that they were selling their milk to and set their sights on producing “something unique, something akin to chateau-bottled wine instead of a commodity.” Sir John’s work in London meant that it was Prue who would establish the dairy, find a cheesemaker and sell the cheese, before eventually handing over the reins to Mary Quicke MBE following her return to the farm in 1984.
Bringing her experience of journalism in London, as well as a year working on a cheesemaking farm in Shropshire in 1982 and completing a Diploma in Farm Management at Seale-Hayne College in 1983, Mary was ready to make her mark in cheese. Working in the soft boundary between admiration and partnership with the land, Mary has overseen huge steps forward in the ensuing decades, from the switch to specially bred hybrid cows and the introduction of the kiwi grazing system to the development of an eco-friendly cheese mite management system that employs a high-pressure blower to blast the mites off Quicke’s clothbound cheese.
International acclaim and a huge haul of awards have followed, but Quicke’s remains as committed as ever to making the very best of what nature provides. Cornish Sea Salt was introduced into the cheesemaker’s carefully honed recipe in 2016, while this year saw the launch of its first ever mixed milk cheese, Lady Prue, named in tribute to Mary’s mother. Collaborations, educational initiatives, experiments and events have kept Quicke’s at the forefront of British cheese movement that continues to win plaudits around the world, but life at Home Farm continues to be shaped by one simple ethos; “farm like you're going to live forever.”
For more information about Quicke's, visit www.quickes.co.uk.