Producer of the Month: Caroline's Dairy
Caroline Spiby launched her premium range of handmade ice cream in the summer of 2008. Caroline and her team make ice cream in a traditional method in small batches, using only the milk from her family's dairy herd that graze the water meadows around the RSPB Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve in West Sussex.
The cows milk is pasturised with double cream and other ice cream ingredients before being frozen to make the Double Dairy unflavoured ice cream, or locally sourced fruit, flavourings and inclusions are added to create a variety of mouth watering flavours. The rich high quality, creamy milk with a butterfat content of four per cent makes Caroline's luxury ice cream taste like no other, and is what it has become renowned for.
Why do you do what you do?
I had a vision back in 2000 that I wanted to make the best ice cream that I could.
Having been a project manager for a multimedia company when I met my dairy farmer husband to be Chris it wasn’t long before I realised what Chris did – bringing life into the world and feeding people - was so much more important than what I did all day working with computers and the internet. I knew then that this would change.
Chris and I decided that it was time to start a business producing a dairy product using his high quality milk. After looking into a soft blue cheese but deciding against it because it required too much investment, we settled on the idea of ice cream.
However, the arrival of my two boys meant the business idea was put on hold for 7 years until the time was right. Never one to be downhearted or defeated, I always knew that when that time arrived then it would be the beginning of my great ice cream adventure.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the feeling of satisfaction in creating something that I can see others enjoy. It is also wonderful being able to watch the whole process happening on our farm; I get a great sense of achievement in seeing the whole process from the cows being milked to the ice cream being made into the finished product. I also love the work-life balance that working at home on the farm gives me as I am able to be there for my boys.
What do you least enjoy about your job?
Packaging - it takes a lot of time even now when we want to add flavours to our retail range as the name and ingredients part of the label need to be designed. It takes a long time to get it right, very expensive if you get it wrong, then there are changes to the legislation and we have to start all over again.
What achievement are you most proud of?
It is very fulfilling to actually own my own business and to create a delicious product from the produce of my husband's dairy farm. This year several of our flavours were awarded stars in The Great Taste Awards and silver and bronze medals in The National Ice Cream competition, these are very high accolades in this industry.
Why should we buy British produce?
Basically because we produce the best food in this country with the best welfare for our animals. If everyone supports their local food producers we not only get great produce but we are also supporting the local community and strengthening our local and national economy as we do not need to import so much. Our farmers are custodians of our countryside and we should not forget this and support them in every way we can.
How do you think we should be promoting British?
I think teaching children to cook would be a start, then more people would be able to use the raw products that our farmers produce. This would increase the local market for all our farmers. The Government also need to play their part in supporting the farming community. We have opened our farm to the public for Open Farm Sunday for the last two years. In the first year we had 1200 visitors which increased to over 1500 this year. This has proved a wonderful way to meet the local community, show them how we produce their food and look after our cows and how we make our delicious ice cream.
If you were an advertising executive, what slogan would you use to promote British?
Proud to Buy British.
What's on the menu this evening?
Sausages made by my local butcher served with locally grown vegetables and then we will probably have a little Sea Buckthorn ice cream for dessert.
How can people get hold of your produce?
You can buy our ice cream from a selection of local shops and restaurants in the South East of England, for a full list of suppliers see our website www.carolinesdairy.co.uk