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How Briton John Kopiski moved to the Russian hinterland and became a farmer
How Briton John Kopiski moved to the Russian hinterland and became a farmer

He started a new life in the Russian wilderness. For the past 20 years, with his wife and five children, he has been raising cows, making cheese and happy.

The ancient village of Krutovo near Petushki (120 km from Moscow, Vladimir region) is one of those places that one might involuntarily want to call “Russian expanses”.

Wide meadows extending beyond the horizon, the winding banks of the Klyazma River, colorful houses with carved platbands, wooden churches towering above them. Here is the real Russian estate of the former British businessman John Kopiski, who is now a Russian citizen and a farmer known throughout the district. We decided to find out if his cheeses and syrniki are so good?

Kolkhoz tourism

John and Nina Kopiski

John and Nina Kopiski.

“There used to be an abandoned Soviet collective farm here,” says Nina Kopiski, John's charming wife, wearing a bright blue coat with antique fur trim, showing off her property. “We have built an agro-tourist complex“Bogdarnya”here, where both children and adults can come: ride horses, walk around the neighborhood, eat delicious food, relax from the city.”

A real heavy truck!

A real heavy truck!

As far as possible, the old buildings have been preserved: this stone tower with an outbuilding used to store manure, and today there is a sauna for guests. The cowshed has become a real restaurant - its past can only be guessed from the shape of the building; there is no smell, but inside there are ordinary tables and chairs decorated with Soviet symbols. Wooden houses were turned into hostels.


"Bogdarnya", the same manor hotel.

“A couple more old houses were brought from the Arkhangelsk region - now they are being reassembled by logs, and in the future we plan to live there,” says Nina Valerievna. She is an architect by education, and all this landscape design is her idea.

Walking alley

Walking alley.

The central place on the farm is occupied by a 19-room hotel in the form of a noble estate, also built according to her project.

Inside the hotel

Inside the hotel.

Here, on a covered veranda with a view of the Klyazma, the owner himself likes to be, coming out to the guests in a traditional shirt-shirt. At his "slightly over 70" he looks very energetic and cheerful, similar to the fabulous Santa Claus, who seems to be about to take out a bag of gifts.

John with his own cheeses

John with his own cheeses.

In the UK, John was engaged in business in the coal and metal industry, but at the age of 40 he decided to start a new life. “I did everything I could there,” - this is how the farmer answers the most popular question “why?”.

Fate brought him to Russia in the 1990s, where he saw the potential for creativity. Here he met his future wife Nina and decided to stay, becoming in 1993 one of the first foreigners to receive a Russian passport.

Now, together with his wife and children (and there are five of them in the family), he has been engaged in dairy and meat production and develops agritourism for more than 20 years: the family owns the Christmas farm and the Bogdarnya tourist complex with a cheese dairy, a stable and a restaurant located a few kilometers away … John can talk endlessly about his farm, and in very good Russian.

Paradise for cheese lovers

Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 10 thousand tourists came to Bogdarnya every year, including from abroad.

In 2020, when the number of guests dropped significantly, the Kopiski family decided to focus on dairy production by opening a new cheese dairy. So far, his cheeses are sold only in a few stores in Moscow and Vladimir, as well as via the Internet. They cost like other high-quality Russian cheeses, that is, they are quite competitive in the market. The business is only expanding from year to year - they buy cheeses.

John explains this by the high quality of his products.

John at the cheese dairy

John at the cheese dairy.

“For the production of one kilogram of cheese, we take 13 liters of our milk and do not use any chemicals or palm oil in the process.The prime cost of milk alone turns out to be about 400 rubles ($ 60), excluding other costs. That is why we cannot sell our cheese for less than 800 rubles per kilogram,”says John and offers cheese treats.

The cheese is waiting to ripen

The cheese is waiting to ripen.

In "Bogdarna" three dozen types of cheeses are brewed according to European standards. The hardest is "Jonosan", five months old, similar to Parmesan.

There is a tart orange "Red October", a semi-hard salty "Comrade" in an openwork hole, Sun Blue with noble mold, from which incredible ice cream is made in the barn restaurant, but the most interesting turned out to be Shambala cheese with fenugreek seeds. “He is the most popular with us, - smiles John, - He is taken most often”.

Fascinating types of cheese

Fascinating types of cheese.

In addition to original cheeses, gouda, cheddar and cachiotta are also made here. But John is cool about mozzarella and chechil: “I don’t understand these cheeses,” he shrugs.

Assorted cheeses

Assorted cheeses.

In addition to cheeses, yoghurts, kefir, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter and milk are made from their own milk. Part of the milk from the Christmas farm is purchased by enterprises for the production of baby food.

Farm breakfast at the barn restaurant

Farm breakfast at the barn restaurant.

And in the barn restaurant, guests can taste all these dairy products in different forms, as well as ricotta cheesecakes with semolina instead of flour and cheesecake according to John Kopiski's signature recipe: a cream cheese mass is laid on a shortcrust dough base and then frozen. These delicate and light desserts were even marked by the national project "Gastronomic Map of Russia" in November 2020.

Family farm


In addition to John and Nina, their sons also work on the farm, which the spouses are very happy about.

23-year-old Vasily conducts master classes on cooking beef steaks for guests and knows literally everything about them. “We have all meat - dry aged, dry ripening, even minced meat, and they do not need to be kept on fire for a long time, they are ready in just a couple of minutes,” he says, checking the readiness of the steak with a special thermometer-probe. "After grilling, the meat should be wrapped in foil and left for a while, then it will be very tasty." Of the spices, only coarse sea salt is enough. Pepper optional.

He himself admits that for many years he has eaten only meat, dairy products and bread from the family farm, and he feels great.

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