Meet the Farmers

What makes great milk?

Ben meets Cumbria based cheesemaker, sheep and goat farmer Martin Gott.

St James Cheese

Episode Notes

We’re up in the Lake District today, in Cumbria to meet farmer and cheesemaker Martin Gott who runs Holker Farm and St James Cheese with his wife Nicola. Martin and Nicola have rented the Cumbrian farm since 2006 after moving up from Somerset. They established a flock of milking sheep and began making farmhouse artisan cheese. Previously Martin worked alongside two other cheesemakers both making cheese from raw milk, one with goats in Somerset and one making Lancashire cheese near Preston. Martin grew up in Lancashire and whilst he wasn’t raised on the farm, his father farmed pigs near Kendal in Cumbria. After working for four years as a butcher for his father he left to follow his passion in cheese and begin what would become his cheesemaking career. After 18 months in Lancashire Martin moved with Nicola to Somerset to work part time for legendary farmhouse cheese maker Mary Holbrook. It was during this period that they bought some sheep and starting experimenting with their own cheese which resulted in St James cheese. They returned north to take up their current tenancy on just 20 acres of land. Alongside their 100 or so sheep during covid they took on a load of goats and now make goats cheeses alongside the sheeps cheese. In 2018 Martin started a Nuffield scholarship on the subject of ‘the prevalence and importance of indigenous bacterial cultures in raw milk cheese’ which took him to US and among others he learnt about microbiology from a cheese making nun who held a PhD.

About Ben

Ben Eagle is a freelance rural affairs and agricultural journalist and podcaster. He also produces podcasts for a number of other rural organisations. You can find out more at 

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This episode is sponsored by our primary sponsor A Plan Rural.

Show References

St James Cheese


00:27 Ben introduces the show

02:48 Martin comes in

02:55 Where does Martin’s interest in cheese come from?

06:12 Everyone tastes something different when they eat cheese.

09:10 Martin’s memories of farmhouse cheeses

11:14 Sponsor message for A Plan Rural

12:03 Where is Martin in Cumbria?

13:19 Martin talks about the farm itself.

15:08 Martin and Nicola buy some goats.

18:28 How creative or scientific is coming up with a new cheese?

29:58 The quest to find the best milk

35:11 The US and cheesemaking

37:29 The cheesemaking nun with a PhD.

39:35 Sponsor message for A Plan Rural

39:58 Nicola.

43:47 Martin’s experience at Kirkhams

48:52 Mary Holbrook

52:25 What does the future look like for Martin and Nicola?

58:24 Martin’s message for the public.

01:01:20 Martin’s message to farmers.

01:03:07 How do people follow – twitter or instagram (or Nicola on Facebook)

01:04:16 Ben rounds up.

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