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On England farm, manure drives 100 percent sustainable cheese

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Sue Pischke/Herald-Times Reporter/AP/File

(Read caption) Graham Achter from St. Cloud, Wis., carrying aged cheddar cheese as he helps his mom buy cheese inside at a store.

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Since 1861, Wyke Farm has been producing cheddar cheese based on traditional family recipes in Somerset, United Kingdom. Today, the farm produces multi award-winning cheddar cheese for the U.K. market with a 100 percent green sustainability label attached.

Wyke Farm is the UK’s biggest cheesemaker and is now the first U.K. cheddar brand to be 100 percent self-sufficient with several green projects like an anaerobic digester plant that converts manure into energy. Over the next 12 months, Wyke Farm plans on savingUS$5 million on their annual power bill thanks mostly to the waste produced by their cows and pigs.

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Thanks to several joint ventures with a variety of investors, Wyke Farm now has one of the largest private anaerobic digester plants in the country. With three digester vessels, it can convert 75,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste materials from the farm and dairy centre, most of which is pig and cow manure.

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Many manufactures are not taking steps to improve waste management practices, making the company’s bio-gas project something that goes above and beyond standard environmental practice

But the managing director, Richard Clothier, didn’t just stop there. The company also aims to minimize their packaging and maximize the use of organic nitrogen to replace artificial fertilisers, as well as reusing as much as 85 percent of farm water.

Although many of the benefits are localised to the Somerset countryside, some extend much further. The bio-gas plant and solar panel projects will combine at peak efficiency to save around 5 million kilos of carbon dioxide a year. Additionally, their green visitor center is spreading the message of green cheese to other businesses and the public.

In recognition of Wyke Farm’s commitment to sustainable practices, the company won two trophies in the Food Manufacture’s Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards in 2013. Richard says, “We’re committed to energy efficiency and we’re proud to be one of the first national food brands to be self-sufficient.” The company now produces 14,000 tonnes a year of green cheese.

Businesses that uphold sustainable practices in how they source, produce, and serve or sell food play a crucial role in transforming the food system. Food Tank will regularly feature businesses that are providing food to their customers in environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable ways.

Rebecca is currently completing a Masters in Violence, Conflict and Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She intends on pursuing a career in research and policy related to food security issues. To contact email: