Wensleydale cheesemaker showcases produce at No 10

Ben and Sam Spence with Rishi Sunak at the No 10 Farm to Fork Summit.

An artisan cheesemaker from Wensleydale was among the food producers who attended the recent Farm to Fork summit held at No 10 Downing Street.

Curlew Dairy of Wensley, near Leyburn, was one of 70 businesses and producers from the food and farming industry selected to attend the event, hosted by the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Mr Sunak, MP for Richmond (Yorks), spent time talking to Curlew Dairy owners Ben and Sam Spence about their business which makes three types of premium farmhouse Wensleydale cheese.

He said: “It was great to have a food business from the constituency at the summit to demonstrate the kind of high-quality food that is made in North Yorkshire. Ben and Sam have a tremendous product rooted in Wensleydale and their fledgling business is growing.”

Mr Spence said the day at the No 10 was a memorable experience.

“It was a good opportunity to showcase our cheese to industry experts and opinion formers and to speak to our MP – the Prime Minister – about what we do and our story.”

Mr Spence said production was increasing from its current 20 tonnes a year, assisted by a £10,000 grant from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund which had been used to invest in a cheese press and cheese mill.

The Spences started Curlew Dairy in 2019 after leaving careers in finance behind. Originally based on Ben’s family farm at Aysgarth, they moved to Wensley in 2021.

They produce three cheeses, all made from raw or unpasteurised milk. Yoredale is a traditional farmhouse Wensleydale, a smoked version called Millerwood and a blue cheese launched this year.

The cheeses can be purchased from specialist cheese retailers and local stockists include Lewis and Cooper, Northallerton, The Cheese Press, Richmond and Campbells of Leyburn.

Cheese can also be ordered online from curlewdairy.co.uk or purchased in Wensley from an honesty box near the dairy.

The Farm to Fork summit was the second such event held to recognise the crucial importance of the food and farm sector to the UK.  It brought together representatives from across the supply chain to discuss some of the key challenges and growth opportunities that lie ahead, reaffirming the Government’s plans to bolster food security and support a resilient and profitable food and farming sector.