Botton Village in Danby Dale, nestling beneath the North York Moors, is a remarkable place: five farms, 280 people half of whom have learning disabilities or special needs all living together as a community in which those with special needs share their home and life with those who support and work with them.
It’s all part of the admirable Camphill Village Trust, a charity inspired by Rudolph Steiner whose philosophy was based on the principles of mutual support and respect in which everyone works to help each other rather than for personal reward. So spending a few bob in the food store gives you the double whammy of taste-good and feel-good.
The shop is packed with loads of good things; groceries and wholefood, their own herbal tea, jams and pressed apple juice, bread and cakes from their bakery and seasonal organic and biodynamic fruit and veg from the farms. I came away with apples, beetroot, onions and three glowing orange pumpkins.
My greatest delight though was the creamery. Cheese is back in production after a number of barren years, now that Alastair, the new cheesemaker has joined the community and he’s doing a great job. In the cheese room on slatted wooden shelves are rows and rows of luscious raw milk cheeses that are turned, rind washed and gently nurtured every day.
They make three cheeses – a camembert style is still in the development phase. Botton Gouda is a sweet, mild Gouda-style cheese, with or without cumin, and a million miles from the rubbery supermarket stuff. There’s a strong, tangy rinded Moorland Tomme, made in a block and aged for 18 months – it looks cracked and ancient like something the monks at nearby Whitby Abbey might have made centuries ago. And then there’s Dale End, a gorgeously nutty muslim wrapped cheddar-style cheese, wonderful with Botton grown apples or a slice of fruit cake. All the cheeses are made with unpasteurised milk, giving them a deep, rounded richness. They’re modestly priced and absolutely terrific.
Botton Village, Danby, Nr Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 2NJ Open Mon-Fri 9am-12 noon & 2pm-5pm Sat 9am-12 noon.