Now there is a lot to say and even more to do. We are bang in the thick of it. We have finished our first week as fresh milk processors . We have grown our ‘Ring of Five’ shops into a ring of 7. We have nosed-to-tailed-it with A5 leaflets . We have visited our local vets ; the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) offices to fill them in on our area of outstanding natural milk . We have really got amongst the people. We’ve been to Bird and Carter in their totally wonderful deli on the A36; to The Borough Café in my favourite Downton, Wilts; The Phoenix Stores on the southern rim of Salisbury.
Now the people of Martin Parish have access to ALL food products that are produced and farmed in Britain ... save for fish and wine but there is apple juice. Martin has got its Dairy back.
We are able to process the milk from other herdsmen. As you may remember – that was an important aspect of Maple Field Milk C.I.C .We want to enable existing dairy farmers and new entrants into dairy farming to sell their fresh milk absolutely direct to the human customer (often referred to as the ‘end user’ which I’m not sure I like the sound of ). Community farms like Futurefarms – Martin Ltd can now have their own dairy if they wish. Sutton Community farm in London will be our very next target to see if it would be possible to install such a system for them. The Riverbourne Community Farm, Salisbury (www.riverbournecommunity farm.org) can, as soon as they buy their dairy cows, get us to process their milk for sale in their groovy farm shop. All the children taught by them will have milk straight from the cow via Maple Field Milk, Martin – 8 miles from their farm.
‘Five Go to Whitey Top’ is the title of a fantastic story that will develop on these pages over the next century. The White family work Whitey Top farm, Pentridge, Dorset which is 2 miles from Maple Field. The cows are visible from the top part of the Maple field. It’s a bit like an estate agent advertising a cottage with ‘sea views’ when you could only see the view if you were pointing the chimney! But you can see them. So its not far. We collect the milk in our refrigerated van and put it through the pasteuriser and bottle it within 2 hours. We then deliver to the ‘ring of 7’ shops every day except Sunday. The shelf price is the same as the industrial homogenized milk which we hope to replace. Not more - the same.
Over the course of the next few weeks we shall talk about the family of four all of whom are involved in ‘full on’ dairy farming. Fresh-as-a-daisy milk produced for you this morning by Hannah or Oliver, the daughter and son of Peter and Julie White. They are the third generation of dairy farmers carrying on the fantastic work, day-in day-out. Now they have the chance to meet their audience and to take the bow at the footlights of farming.
There are plenty of farms with ‘on farm’ milk processing in Britain. Nothing is completely new under heaven. This is our version. Positioned at the intersection of Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire, we used to have the wonderful Caroline Lucas as our M.E.P and she called it her Northwest frontier. We must tell her that we have achieved the dairy we hope for in 2004.
I remind you that ASDA stands for Associated Dairies. Three tight Yorkshire dairy farmers united in the 1960s and formed a co-op to sell their own milk into Leeds and Manchester. Nothing is new.
Cara, Thia and Myrtle are becoming a bit ‘diva-ish’ as their miracle process of ruminating and squelching lush grass into the Maple Field Energy drink becomes more widely known. There is a bit more time spent in front of the mirror and I’m sure I saw Myrtle practicing a few dance moves to Florence and the Machine on Bail FM.
Outside Maple Field and all that washing down and droning compressors and the smell of hypochlorite (indoor swimming pools smell) – the wheat harvest goes wild with huge tractors pushing down narrow lanes with a bow wave of straw and dust and diesel. The weather holds and long hours are worked. I like it. I actually like the smell of burnt diesel. I like to think of the barns filling up and of the bread that will bring.
80 day old chicks arrived last night. Don’t forget they are the farm fertilizers. They are the source of nitrogen for the grass. We buy in the chicken feed – perhaps wheat or wheat based pellets - the chickens grow fat and spread the dung on the land. Then we eat the chicken.
Next week we’ll be up and feeding people. All the best from the first week of Maple Field Milk and from the White family at Whitey Top Farm.
Photo by Fotolia/Pauws99