The Trafford family sell their Wangapeka Cheeses from their store which is located close to the Great Taste Trail Rail Route at Appleby. In this article, Hodgson traces the development of this boutique family cheese-making business.
Wangapeka Family Dairy is a business built on a few key principles; firstly, it is a family owned business producing an artisan product using a big business attitude, secondly it is a business that can ensure the true quality of the product from the pasture to the plate. The third key is a desire to help change the way we think about food production and quality, and finally it is a business with a real help-your-community ethos.
Karen and Daryl Trafford are both from dairy, sheep and beef farming backgrounds and had been milking about 600 cows on their farm when they were asked to provide fresh milk for a cheese-making course.
After some really positive comments about the quality of their milk and the flavours of the resulting cheese Karen decided to go to one of the courses and learn about cheese-making herself and this encouraged Karen and Daryl to move in a new direction.
Between 2008 and 2010 they moved away from large scale dairying to sheep and beef farming and then in 2013 sold the original farm, bought a new one and built a little factory to pursue a new approach to farming and food, they moved from large scale dairy farmers to small scale dairy producers milking about 75 cows in the summer months and 30 in winter with all of the milk being processed and sold by them direct-to-market in one form or another, be it fresh milk, yoghurts or cheeses.
Karen says that “with the goal of developing a holistic farm-to-market dairy business, we’ve found that the key to success is controlling everything from pasture to finished product, we like to call it pasture to plate.”
When I asked Karen why they made such a huge change she told me it was a combination of a lot of things, she always had a real passion and interest in holistic health, “you are what you eat” she says.
While the move developed from a small interest in providing people with milk for cheese making it all comes down to wanting people to be able to buy wonderful dairy products that haven’t been made using additives and preservatives, foods made in as natural way as possible.
“As a producer of a primary commodity we want consumers to know and trust our brand and products, what we say they are buying is exactly what we deliver, we want consumers to trust everything about our business, from animal welfare, environmental management, and quality of production using all organic practices, we want our customers to know they are buying food with integrity that has been created with a huge amount of personal passion for quality.”
While they are currently looking at viability of milking sheep for sheep’s milk cheeses and fresh ewe’s milk and are preparing to sell unpasteurised milk, it is the current range of products like wholesome fresh milk, yoghurts, fresh cheeses and other soft camembert style and hard cheeses that keep them busy.
Karen says at a recent cheese awards public tasting it was “really obvious people in their 20’s and 30’s are right into their food and really know what they are doing and what they want, they want to know more about the integrity of the food they are consuming and that really excites me.”
Wangapeka Family Dairy products are foods produced with integrity, are foods you can trust and are foods that also just happen to have wonderful flavours and have won many awards and accolades.
Thanks to Neil Hodgson for permission to use this article, first published 29/3/16