Established in 2020 by Oliver and Charlotte Hemsley, Hollis Mead Dairy produces cream, yoghurt, cheese, butter, creme fraiche, cottage cheese and kefir from their farm just outside Dorchester in West Dorset. They are proudly the only certified organic, pasture-fed, regenerative and biodynamic dairy and creamy in the UK.
Their farm is named after the original owner, Thomas Hollis, a political philosopher and writer. After he died in 1774, he was buried with his horse in a field called Hollis Mead.
Producing dairy doesn’t have to cost the earth
As a progressive dairy farm, Oliver and Charlotte’s aim is to prove that the future of dairy can be a far cry from the intensive, industrialised past. It is possible to produce milk in a way that doesn’t cost the earth - they believe in conscious farming that supports the ecosystem without a vast carbon footprint. Hollis Mead is dedicated to converting people back to appreciating natural dairy once more.
As a result of their commitment to progressive dairy, the team at Hollis Mead have scooped an impressive range of awards. The team received a Special Recognition from Compassion in World Farming (2021) as well as being a finalist in the BBC Food and Farming Awards (2021).
“This type of farming for the future is exciting to see.” Dorset Wildlife Trust
What is organic farming?
The Soil Association, of which Hollis Mead Dairy is certified, says that “Organic is a system of farming and food production. Organic farmers aim to produce high-quality food using methods that benefit our whole food system, from people to planet, plant health to animal welfare.”
Hollis Mead is OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers) certified. They don’t use pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilisers anywhere on the farm.
What do Hollis Mead cows eat?
The herd is 100% pasture-fed - they are Pasture for Life (PFLA) certified. This means Hollis Mead produce doesn't include grains, soya, concentrates or industrial feeds in their cows’ diets. Hay is cut at the end of August to ensure the protection of ground nesting birds like sky larks and meadow pipette, as well as other grass dwelling animals such as hares and hedgehogs.
Why are Hollis Mead cows pasture-fed?
Pasture-fed cows produce less than a third of the milk yield of an industrial dairy herd. Whilst most dairy farmers aim to produce over 40 litres of milk per cow per day, Hollis Mead average around 12 litres. As a direct result of feeding cows simply on grass and wildflowers, they produce a milk yield much closer to their natural lactation. This means a more concentrated milk, but also the cows live up to three times longer than an industrially farmed animal.
Research shows that pasture-fed milk contains much lower fat levels than milk from grain-fed animals, as well as higher levels of omega 3, vitamins A and E, calcium, magnesium and CLA (National Library of Medicine 2019).
How does Hollis Mead support biodiversity?
Regular biodiversity surveys are carried out by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. To encourage a flourishing ecosystem, Hollis Mead have planted over 20km of new hedgerows, which provide essential habitat and corridors for wildlife.
What is regenerative farming?
Hollis Mead practises sustainable methods of farming to encourage healthy soil. Through independent auditors, soil health is regularly monitored to measure the Co2 sequestration. Some of the regenerative practices include:
Soil cover – Growing cover crops can help protect the soil from erosion by wind, water, and water loss.
No deep ploughing – You won’t see ploughs in the fields at Hollis Mead - it disturbs the valuable fungal network. Leaving the soil alone improves soil structure, drainage and water holding capacity.
Mix it up – Hollis Mead plant a carefully selected mix of perennials that not only feed cows the perfect blend of nutrients, it also nourishes the soil itself with a greater diversity of bacteria and fungi. A biologically active soil can be much more productive than one reliant on chemicals. Each 1% of increased soil organic matter helps to retain gallons more water per acre. Increased water holding capability also results in less nutrient run-off, greater carbon capture, resilient crops and improved soil structure.
Livestock integration – Improves the cycling of nutrients and water through the system, inoculates the soil with beneficial bacteria and tramples fresh biomass into the soil as a source of nutrients to soil biota.
Grow crops suitable to climate and market – West Dorset has a mild and forgiving climate from an agricultural point of view. This means it naturally lends itself to growing crops based on grasses, herbs and forages that can be grazed by ruminants.
Benefits of regenerative farming
Carbon capture – Improving soil health locks in more carbon. The deeper and more complex the root systems, the more carbon is locked away.
Wildlife and biodiversity – Worms, bees and butterflies are good markers for happy soil and productive land. Some fly above the crop, some live in the grasses, some on the soil surface and others below. As regenerative agriculture calls for less intervention, it encourages an environment for insects who are tiny helpers for farmers.
Earthworms, for one, burrow through the soil, munching as they go, gently churning up the earth. This moves nutrients around and creates channels for root growth, which helps increase the soil’s water-holding capacity.
Above ground, having a diverse range of perennials attracts butterflies, grasshoppers, ants and bees, who all aid pollination.
Nutrient dense milk – When plants have the root systems they need to flourish, they build compounds to protect against disease and bugs. A fertile soil is full of good bacteria, fungi and nematodes – and the healthier the soil, the healthier the crop. When cows are able to graze on nutrient dense pastures, they’re bound to produce a better quality milk.
Hollis Mead products available from DukesHill
With such progressive attitudes to farming, we are proud to offer a fantastic selection of products from Hollis Mead online at DukesHill. The range of organic, pasture-fed dairy includes:
Hollis Mead Organic Salted Butter received the acclaimed three Great Taste Award stars in the largest food awards in the world. Described by the judges as 'quite simply superb', out of 14,195 blind-tasted products, this butter was amongst the top 248 highest rated!
Hollis Mead Greek Style Yoghurt is a deliciously smooth and creamy yoghurt made from rich organic and 100% Grass Fed cows milk.
Hollis Mead Cottage Cheese - this delightful cottage cheese from Hollis Mead has a soft, crumbly texture with a clean and tangy taste.
Hollis Mead Benville Brie Cheese - the award-winning Benville Brie is utterly sumptuous and creamy. A 100% pasture-fed organic British triple cream cheese. Winning three gold stars in the Great Taste Awards 2022.
“Utter perfection. The rind is soft, with gentle notes of sweet meadow farmyard. Sumptuous cream which covers your tongue with a velvet smooth, silky layer of loveliness” – Guild of Fine Food.
Hollis Mead Truffled Brie - this deliciously creamy brie from award-winning Hollis Mead Dairy combines a sumptuous layer of chopped black truffles with the sweet notes of grass and wildflowers upon which the cows graze naturally on. This is a truly exquisite and irresistible British cheese.
“Everything you’ve done from feeding your herd, to milking them and churning the butter with care is apparent in every mouthful.” Guild of Fine Food
“Both DukesHill and Hollis Mead share a deep commitment to quality, sustainability, and the artisanal approach to food. DukesHill's long-standing tradition of delivering exceptional hams and artisanal goods, combined with Hollis Mead Dairy's dedication to producing high-quality, organic dairy products, is a match made in heaven."
“At DukesHill, we believe in offering our customers the very best, and Hollis Mead Dairy's commitment to 100% pasture-fed, organic milk aligns perfectly with our values. Their prestigious awards are a testament to their unwavering dedication to quality and taste."
“This partnership not only allows us to expand our range of curated artisan products but also reinforces our commitment to supporting sustainable and responsible farming practices. Together, we aim to provide you with an even broader selection of exceptional, ethically produced delights.” - Mark Gallagher, CEO of DukesHill
Support Oliver, Charlotte and the dedicated team at Hollis Mead Dairy as they tirelessly pursue their mission to craft better dairy. Explore their range of ethical dairy products here and fill your fridge with the goodness of organic, grass-fed dairy.