Old Park Farm - a Pensworth Dairy Supplier

A visit to Old Park Farm, one of Pensworth’s dairy suppliers, is like stepping into a piece of history. While their methods of milking their cows are modern, the care that they take over each of their 107 milking cows is unusual in today’s world. Richard and Ruth Baker have had the farm since 1998, when they took over from Richard’s father. Before that, it was his grandfather’s farm, which the family had run – first renting, then owning – since 1928.

Describing how they manage the farm and their cows, Ruth tells us, “It’s a simple system and that’s how it’s always been done.”

The welfare of the cows on Old Park Farm is managed carefully. From the quality of their diet – all grass-based – to their covered straw yards in the winter, down to their calves, fed direct from the cows and weaned only when they’re strong enough, the livestock are always put first. Ruth tells us, “We love doing it and we’ll always put animals before anything indoors. Good quality means good welfare, so we make sure they’ve got food and water and dry places to lie down, and if they need attention it gets dealt with. Nothing gets left – it’s all just a good product really.”

Linda Eccles, Milk Supply Manager and Quality Coordinator at Pensworth agrees: “So, for milk quality, you look at butter fat levels, Bactoscan and Somatic Cell Counts. The Bakers have always got very good quality to be honest.” Having a smaller operation – relatively speaking – means that the Bakers are able to keep this quality high. Ruth tells us, “We’re quite proud of our cows, we’re very proud of our farm because we keep it clean and tidy and we look after everything. Because we’ve only got a few, we know each cow individually and so if one’s poorly we can pick it up because we just know that they’re not right and we get it all dealt with. We’re quite proud of what we’ve got here, really.”

Working with farms such as Old Park Farm is an important part of maintaining a local supply chain for Pensworth. The importance, Linda tells us is that “People know where the product comes from and there’s an emphasis on that at the end of the day.” Ruth agrees. Asked what her top tip to a chef might be, she tells us, “If he wants to help out, he needs to go back to source more, or go back to a smaller retailer. We always get our products from other farmers or butchers because it’s better than supermarket products. You get more for your money – you get better for your money as well.”

Old Park Farm is a slice of calm, away from a busy world. The contentedness that the Bakers live in is palpable and is summed up in Ruth’s words of wisdom: “Just be happy. I’ve had the best 12 months I’ve ever had with my family and do you know why? It’s because they’re all happy. If you’re happy in your job and you can get up and enjoy what you do, then it makes the whole family happy.”