The Yorkshire Dales cheesemonger sharing secrets of the foodstuff with a new generation

The history of cheesemaking in Yorkshire stretches back over a millennium.

And now one cheesemonger is determined to pass on his skills to a new generation, and is visiting schools across the region to pass on the secrets behind one of the nation’s most loved foods.

Andy Swinscoe, the owner of the Courtyard Dairy near Settle and former winner of Cheesemonger of the Year, was inspired by his own children to begin the visits, which he hopes will inspire young people to learn more about food production from farm to fork.

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Mr Swinscoe, 35, who lives above the cheese shop with his wife Kathy and children Walter and Mary, said: “I’ve always worried that we’re disconnected from our food.

Andy Swinscoe, the owner of the Courtyard Dairy near Settle and former winner of Cheesemonger of the Year, was inspired by his own children to begin the visits, which he hopes will inspire young people to learn more about food production from farm to fork.

“Pre Covid, my wife wanted to do cooking classes, and we’ve been trying to work out how we can connect people with food in a positive way.

“My children go to a local school, and they were learning about farm to fork in school and I thought ‘I can’t spend my life moaning about children not knowing about food, and not do something.’

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“We have so many farmers around here trying to farm in a sustainable way and I just wanted to showcase what great projects we have.”

Mr Swinscoe lives above the cheese shop with his wife Kathy and children Walter and Mary

Making award-winning cheese isn’t something that can be learned in just an afternoon, but Mr Swinscoe shows the children rudimentary methods to ignite an interest.

He said: “We talk a little bit about the history of why we have cheese, and where we are in Yorkshire.

“It’s part of our social history.

“Then we set the milk, and go about turning it into curds and whey, and end up making a very simple cheese.

“We talk to the children about the ingredients and then get them to try three different cheeses and guess how old they are and what animals they come from.

“I think even most adults don’t realise how cheese is made and the effort involved.”

Mr Swinscoe fears that, without intervention, the art of cheesemaking could be eventually lost.

He said: “A hundred and fifty years ago the reputation of British cheese – which was regarded as some of the best in the world – was established by farmers’ wives, and that was passed down mother to daughter.

“The way I see it, our job as a business is to keep alive that legacy. To keep those small family farms and to encourage people to continue.

“It’s important for children to get excited about food – not just the eating of it, but where it comes from.

“If you want to support that style of farming, all you have to do is eat that food. It’s that simple.

“Yesterday it was grass, today it’s milk, this afternoon it’s going to be cheese. Isn’t that amazing?”