During our dairying lives we've travelled through the good times, the amazing times and more recently, the terrible nail-biting times. We've seen our local dairying landscape diminish from 40 herds in the immediate area, to just two and we've somehow clung onto our little patch of the Waveney Valley and our own beloved business.
In 2010, we became tired of moaning about the milk price and began to yearn for a new challenge and some control over our own business. We bought a garden shed, painted it cow-print and put it at the farm gate. Inside it we placed a fridge containing just 10 bottles of our own raw cows milk. By mid morning, all the bottles were sold, with the last customer guzzling his entire bottle on site and demanding more!
Within a month we needed a bigger fridge. At this point, the labour costs involved in manually bottling our milk were becoming quite high. To add to that, we were aware that a small handful of our visitors were less than honest when it came to using the honesty box.
We were introduced to the concept of milk vending when a friend from Spain tweeted us a photo of an alien looking machine in his local town (thanks Stephan!). Within a couple of months, we were the proud owners of the UK's first raw milk vending machine. It was the answer to many of our dilemmas and proved very popular with our customers. Our first machine was not in fact a DF Italia machine but a Swiss brand. It served our purposes quite well but was messy and needed to be babysat a lot.
We stumbled across DF Italia's beautiful milk vending machines whilst on holiday in New Zealand and knew instantly that this was the next step for us. With their hygienic systems and super logical design, they have made our lives a lot easier.
We are now very proud to be representing DF Italia in the UK and enabling other dairy farmers to make a decent profit from their hard-won milk.
In addition to milk vending, we have diversified into raw cheese and butter making, raw cream and buttermilk. Our milk vending machine at the farm gate was the perfect solution to bring in some fast and much needed cash flow whilst we planned our other diversification projects. Now a few years down the line and much larger in capacity, it is still an ideal way for us to sell our own beautiful raw milk direct to our customers and sales are still growing!
Our goal for the near future is to be able to process all of our own milk on the farm and thus have complete control over the price of our own products.
To read more about our own farm and diversification projects including our raw milk cheese, butter and cream, visit the Fen Farm Dairy website: www.fenfarmdairy.co.uk