Our family history
It’s incredible to think, but the Mead family has been farming here in Somerset since the 1400s. Needless to say, a lot has happened in that time. So why not pop the kettle on and have a rummage through the archives in our timeline below?
Click on a date for a bite-sized history lesson.
Mead ancestors (with the surname Tripp) recorded farming in Somerset.
Roger Mead leaves school to take up dairy farming.
Putting down roots in the Valley
In 1961 Roger and Mary moved to Holt Farm, starting out with 30 cows, a few sheep and some arable crops. When Lag Farm next door came up for sale in 1969, it was ideal for expanding the herd and creating somewhere we could make Yeogurt.
We're growing around the Valley
In 1972 we opened up for customers to pick their own strawberries and built a tea room beside Blagdon Lake for them to relax in afterwards (that’s the new one in the photo). We tried making Yeogurt with skimmed milk left over from clotted cream – it was delicious, so we started selling it around the valley from our Morris Minor van.
By the 1980s our Yeogurt was rather popular, and as the first supermarkets were developing we had to produce more milk. There were then 30 people working in our dairy.
Big changes at the family farm
In 1990 Roger’s death left Tim and Mary to manage the 135-strong family business. In 1994 we agreed to buy milk from a group of organic dairy farmers to make our Yeogurt – the Yeo Valley Organic brand was born, with milk coming from the Organic Milk Supplier’s Co-operative (OMSCo).
A new office
In 1999 we moved into a head office in the village of Blagdon, complete with staff restaurant. There were 600 people working with us.
In 2001 we won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development (and again in 2006). In 2002 we planted our first crop of elephant grass, a sustainable biofuel for the boiler at our head office – the annual crop still keeps us warm each winter.
a big way
By 2007 we had 1,000 people working with us, and the farms stepped up to the plate to provide lamb, beef, eggs and vegetables for the staff canteens.
As our farms are organic we started the process of getting our gardens (at the centre of Holt Farm) certified too. We also finished converting Wills Barn with sustainable building features like solar panels, and opened it as our farm classroom.
Our first TV ad
Our rapping farmers got millions of X-Factor fans chanting “Yeo Valley! Yeo Valley!” A year later our second TV ad launched The Churned’s single Forever.
A half-century and other celebrations
Lots to celebrate in 2011: 50 years in the valley, our third Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development, and the Good Dairy Award from Compassion in World Farming. We also set up a field of solar panels to power the milk bottling plant.
We plan to be farming and making tasty Yeogurt here in the valley forever.