Name: Frank Reynolds
Job title: Dairy Farmer & Cheesemaker
Company & location: Kingcott Dairy, Staplehurst, Kent
Education: Cranbrook Grammar School up to A level
Why did you decide to go for a career in food? Living and growing up on a dairy farm naturally led me down the food producer route. I started milking and looking after the cows at weekends while studying for my A levels. It’s hard work and long hours but it’s fantastic to do a job I enjoy.
I decided to join the farm at 18 and began bottling and pasteurising our milk to supply to local coffee shops and farm shops alongside learning all the other jobs on a dairy farm. I then went on to develop a soft blue cheese – Kingcott Blue – to help maximise the value of our milk.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): My job is the whole process of turning our grass into high-quality milk and then using that to make blue cheese. To get the best milk to work, which means having healthy, contented and relaxed cows. Caring for them is the priority for our small dairy farm and a responsibility I share with my brother, Archie.
What does a typical day look like for you? If I’m on the farm, it is a 5am start to prepare for the morning milking, caring for the cows and the younger animals, getting out into the pastures to check the grass fields and crops and a huge variety of general farm jobs. Cheesemaking days start at 5am too when the fresh milk is piped into the dairy and gradually throughout the day is turned into curds and then on to the ripening of the cheese rounds. There is always something to do on a dairy farm and days rarely finish before 6pm.
“We know each and every one of our animals and their personalities and would never strive to be a large scale intensive dairy farm”
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. Being a family business, I had to come up with a way to increase the viability of our small dairy farm and make myself worth employing. I needed to present budgets and a business plan to my family and make sure there was a market for anything I decided to produce. When I decided on a new cheese – Kingcott Blue – the market research was very important and product development took longer than expected.
What’s the best part about working for a food company? For us as a farm, the best bit is carrying out the whole process of creating the food product from producing the raw material – milk – to seeing the cheese on the shelves of local shops and restaurants.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? I have learnt that it takes time to develop relationships with buyers and customers and tell your story. For me, meeting the people selling my cheese, whether it is a wholesaler or shop assistant, is time-consuming but essential.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? Be prepared to work hard, it’s unlikely there will be instant results but stick with it. And if a producer, to produce something that you like as hopefully you will be making a lot of it!
What’s your ultimate career dream? To stay as a small farm! We know each and every one of our animals and their personalities and would never strive to be a large-scale intensive dairy farm. At present we do not use all of the milk for cheesemaking and I would like to grow the business to achieve this.