A small farm, nestled in the rolling green hills of Nowendoc, made an impact at the 2018 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce competition, winning a mix of gold, silver and bronze medals against some big dairy companies.
Expert judges considered almost 100 classes of produce from milk through to cream, cheese, sorbet, gelato, yoghurt and ice cream.
Plenty of small producers mixed it with the major market operators in their respective sectors at the Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce competition.
Lia and John Christensen from New England Cheese, Nowendoc, 70km south of Walcha, won gold for their Just Jersey cream fraiche and Just Jersey full cream milk, silver with Just Jersey non homogenised milk, Just Jersey honey yoghurt and Just Jersey pot set yoghurt, and bronze for the Just Jersey double cream and Pure Goat chevre.
The Christensens have been based at Nowendoc for eight years and it took two years to build the dairy and manufacturing plant.
“We mainly manufacture for Harris Farm markets in Sydney and make a lot of their brand products, plus some products for Johnsons Farm Gate,” Mr Christensen said.
The Christensens machine milk about 80 goats and the same number of milking sheep on their 135 acre property at Nowendoc, and buy in jersey milk from a single herd based near Dungog.
Mr Christensen said they milk British Alpine cross goats (3.5pc fat and 2.9pc protein) and East Friesian cross Awassi sheep, the “primadonna” of milking sheep.
They produce and sell milk, yoghurts, European style cheeses and creams and “never have a problem with leftover product”.
Chair of judges for the Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Competition Mark Livermore said there was an increasing range of products from sheep, goat and buffalo milk and for the first time this year, camel milk.
“Our exhibitors are very passionate about their craft – after all it is their livelihoods and year on year we are seeing high quality and innovation in the cheese and dairy sectors,” Mr Livermore said.