Brothers Simon and Tim Jones are the fourth generation to be running their family farm at Alford, Lincolnshire. They operate the farm and associated cheese-making business sustainably, seeking to minimise negative impact on the environment. This involves using renewable sources of energy including a wind turbine and solar panels. A straw pellet boiler heats the milk at the start of cheese making and a ground source pump warms the office and cutting room. Overall the farm is a net exporter of electricity. Hedgerow management and minimal use of chemicals promotes wildlife and diversity on the farm's land.
Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese began making cheese in the early 1990s when Simon Jones and head cheese-maker Richard Tagg developed the recipe for Lincolnshire Poacher, a traditional hard, pressed cheese made in large wheels of 20kg. This cheese is made using traditional "cheddaring" techniques but its finished texture is closer to that of hard Alpine cheeses than typical English Cheddar. At twelve months each maturing wheel is tasted and graded to be enjoyed as "Poacher" at 18-22 months or "Vintage Poacher" at around 22 months. A small number of very special cheeses are matured beyond 24 months, these punchy wheels are known as "Double Barrel. Some mature cheeses are sent out to a local smokehouse for 24 hours of cold-smoking over oak chips to produce a smoked variation.
In 2000, Simon was joined in the business by his brother Tim. Since then cheese production has expanded and now uses all 6,000 litres of milk produced each day by the farm's herd of 230 Holstein-Friesian cows. Just a small quantity of liquid milk is sold at local farmers' markets. The farm also makes Lincolnshire Red, an eye-catching semi-hard cheese, orange in colour from the addition of annatto dye, and butter to put the cheese making by-product whey to good use. After ripening for a few days, the whey is churned, salted and hand-patted to produce a rich, flavoursome butter with a marbled appearance.