Driven by their passion for the environment, Jackie and Bryan Clearwater took a traditional dairy farm and created a new culture of yoghurt making.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of Peel Forest, just outside of Geraldine, lies Clearwater Farm. Remaining steadfastly true to their principles of organic farming, owners Jackie and Bryan Clearwater have always done things a little differently. Treating their herd of cows as business partners is a great example of why their delicious yoghurt products continue to stand out from the crowd.
It is now almost 20 years since the couple bought the 114-hectare property and began the process of converting it into a successful organic dairy farm.
“Right from the start, we have been committed to making natural products in a sustainable way,” says Jackie. “Back in 1999, organic farming wasn’t popular but we felt that farming, in general, was going in the wrong direction, always trying to extract more from the land.
“We wanted to make New Zealand’s most natural yoghurt with no additives – a product that was better for our health and better for our environment.”
“A few years after we bought the farm, we met our yoghurt maker and business partner Ad Sintenie. By 2005 we were underway supplying cream top yoghurts, that is set in the pot and made from the farm’s pure organic milk and simple starter, to local shops and customers.” Their yoghurt is set in the actual pot you buy and therefore does not need any additives or thickeners. There will be cream on the top and some whey will start to separate as you scoop it out, but just give it a good stir to make it smooth again.
“Our products are now snapped up by those who like good quality food for an affordable price. Simple, unadulterated, creamy yoghurt. No sugar needs to be added here!” says Jackie.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm but took to it like a duck to water. I love animals and being outdoors all day. Bryan is from a rural background as his family had a small block of land raising sheep outside Invercargill.
“Our cows are a Kiwi Cross herd – they have the volume of a Friesian cow with the butterfat of a Jersey. We milk around 200 cows in the summer and around 80 in the winter.”
With conservation and environment protection being their passion and motivation, Jackie and Bryan have taken great care in their latest Clearwater packaging changes, with an environmentally sustainable pot, recyclable foil lids and cardboard sleeves.
Jackie spends her days with four staff focused on the Clearwater yoghurt business and the couple are also preparing their son Sam to eventually take over the farm. “We do whatever Sam needs us to do to make everything work smoothly!”
Reflecting Jackie and Bryan’s love of simple, tasty foods, they often use yoghurt in baking and with a good curry. “But my favourite is to enjoy Clearwater yoghurt with either fresh or preserved fruit. So creamy and delicious, just the way it should be,” says Jackie.