How the woman behind Stichill Jerseys maintains high food standards
Brenda Leddy on cows, cheese and clotted cream
It takes quite a woman to take one Jersey cow and make it into an award-winning transatlantic enterprise, but then Kelso’s Brenda Leddy, of Stichill Jerseys, is not just any woman. A recent runner-up in BBC Radio 4’s Food and Farming Awards, those familiar with the Borders food scene will be little surprised by her success.
Since she stepped onto the scene almost four decades ago, Leddy’s cheese, lemon curd, panacotta and cheesecakes have become staples in Dobbies across Scotland, as well as various farmers’ markets. Let’s not forget her clotted cream, of which she is the only maker in Scotland.
Having started her business with just one Jersey cow, she now has over 100, with just a small team of herself, her daughter and two part-timers keeping things ticking over. ‘I know what we produce and I know that it’s good. We only produce things with no additives, only a little sugar or salt, and that’s what it’s all about. But it’s still nice when others take notice.’ A stalwart of the Borders scene, the Yorkshire-born Leddy believes that people are more ready than ever for fresh, local produce.
‘If we had a motto, it would be: one quality cow, great quality produce.’ A regular competitor at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, she likes to keep her hand in every stage of the process. ‘I have a degree in agricultural and dairying, and I’ve always enjoyed every part of it,’ a fact that explains how far her enterprise has come. Her cheesecakes fly off the shelves and her cheese has made it as far as America, since a Boston importer visiting Scotland was wooed by her wares. ‘It was a crazy time at first,’ laughs Leddy. ‘I was making cream at night and cheese in the morning. But I can’t imagine doing anything else.’
Although she’s considered opening a farm shop and is developing online business, you get the feeling both are a long way from fruition: ‘We’re too busy as we are and people find us anyway.’ Today she can stand alongside fellow dairy producers, such as Standhill Farmhouse Cheeses and the Orchard Farm Dairy, as culinary forces.
She’s clearly very proud. ‘I can’t bear supermarkets and no wonder. I get my pork from Purely Pork in Berwick, I love Puddledub Buffalo and get my lamb from a place outside Gourock, which rears them on heather. I can get everything from the markets, and I think more people are following suit. People want good quality produce and they want to know where it came from – we can give them that.’
Find Brenda Leddy’s produce in Dobbies outlets in Braehead, Livingston, Aberdeen, Dunfermline, Milngavie, Stirling and Edinburgh. Also look for stalls at farmers’ markets including Kelso and Edinburgh.