The Tweddle family has been farming at Garthorne Farm, Archdeacon Newton, near Darlington, for 28 years and four generations later, they are still heavily involved in the dairy industry. It is very much a family affair headed by Gordon and Linda, and their son Graham and daughter Caroline.
The decision to convert from traditional to organic methods was taken in 1998, and Acorn Dairy was born. The original aim was to re-establish door-to-door milk deliveries in the local area but, following a series of food scares, and a growing awareness by the public about the origins and sustainability of food, the family decided that organic milk was the way forward. The award winning business has gone from strength to strength and now doorstep deliveries are carried out to local towns and villages, and the dairy supplies wholesalers across the North of England. Acorn Dairy prides itself on traditional methods of milk production, which involve minimal processing. The milk is not homogenized, allowing the cream to rise to the top, giving a rich and creamy texture.
Central to the operation is the welfare of the organic 800 strong Friesian x Dairy Shorthorn herd. They are antibiotic free and fed on a forage diet, supplemented by natural vitamins and minerals; seaweed is fed to boost the animals` immune systems to keep them healthy and prevent disease. The tracks to and from the milking yards are reinforced using cushioned material to ensure foot health, and the herd is allowed to graze outside for as much of the year as possible.
The original 360 acres has been boosted to 1,000 and the operation now has four organic units for heifers, calves and the male cattle, which are used for meat. The farm uses renewable energy sources and has invested in eco-friendly equipment, such as returnable glass milk bottles, to reduce its environmental impact.