LIVING ON THE LAND // Cressida Cains of Pecora Dairy
A humungous congratulations to Cressida Cains of Pecora Dairy in Robertson!
Cressida has founded Dairy Cocoon, an innovative business and support network for farmers and has just been announced as the 2020 NSW-ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award winner – soooo fabulous!
We caught up with Cressida and had a chat about life on the land.
1 // First of all, let's talk about Pecora Dairy and opening the store recently. Why did you and Michael start the dairy and cheesery nearly ten years ago? And what was the impetus for opening the shop?
Having previously been in the wine industry, Michael and I have always had a love of the science of food. We became fascinated by cheese-making and the way bacteria can work to preserve milk.
We wanted to create a business which was light on the land and sustainable. Sheep are very efficient little animals and produce very dense, rich milk which is ideal for cheesemaking.
We opened our little shop Pecora Dairy Cheese Shop and Providore, in the main street of Robertson in December. Our philosophy is to bring the very best of Australian cheeses and artisan produce from our mates who are farmers, to our local community.
2 // Tell us more about Dairy Cocoon. How did you come up with the concept, and how does it help other farmers and agribusiness?
Over my years in the dairy industry, I have been concerned by the number of small family owned dairy farms closing their gates, unable to make a profit under the current model of selling milk to the few large processors.
I believe there is a way for small dairy farmers to have a profitable and secure future by transforming up the value chain and producing branded product. Dairy Cocoon is a powerful online platform and support hub to help small dairy farms to:
a. formulate a business plan
b. get the education they need and;
c. get connected with community and expertise.
3// What challenges have you and Michael faced since starting Pecora Dairy?
There were few precedents for sheep dairying when we started ten years ago. All our animal management systems we learnt through trial and error. Our biggest highlight has been creating Australia's first uncooked raw milk cheese in 2010.
4 // What do you love about living and working in the Southern Highlands?
Our dairy is seasonal. The girls milk for ten months of the year and then have a break when they are pregnant. We work with the natural rhythm of the ewes, through the ebb and flow of the lactation curve. We adjust our cheesemaking in response to the milk and the seasons.
We love the distinct seasons in the Southern Highlands! Each one means moving to a different stage in our cheesemaking and farming. We have a gentle approach, living by the seasons gives integrity to our work and our lives.
5 // What's next for Pecora Dairy?
We will be releasing a raw milk blue cheese and are working hard to make the farm carbon neutral. We are also committed to supporting local farmers and producers through our little shop and will shortly be getting a liquor license.
Pecora Dairy is an artisan sheep milk dairy and cheesery in Robertson founded in 2011 by Michael and Cressida. Find out more about this wonderful local business and remember to support local!