Husband and wife embrace new technology
A passion for dairy farming has led a north coast couple to embark on a business with a difference — a milk vending machine on their family farm.
Chestnutt’s Farm, located just outside Portrush and owned by husband and wife William and Alison Chestnutt, brings milk from the grass to a glass.
Dairy farmers are embracing technology to reach new customers, with milk vending machines springing up across Northern Ireland.
At Chestnutt’s, the milk is heated at 63 degrees for 30 minutes, whereas in other creameries it is pasteurised at 72 degrees for 15 seconds, with the farm’s style leading to a richer and tastier product.
Alison said: “[The milk] retains the natural flavour and the composition, as close to as nature intended [as possible]. We wanted to keep it close to raw milk, just safer to drink”.
As the product has not been processed to the same extent as other milks, the fat molecules are bigger, allowing cream to rise and making it easier to digest.
William said: “It tastes very different from what you’d get in the supermarket.”
A litre of the milk costs £1 and customers are encouraged to use refillable bottles. They can also add flavoured syrups.
“We started at £1 a litre three years ago and we haven’t increased our price, William said.
“Part of the reason [for that] is that with the cost of living it has become more difficult for people to justify buying that more expensive local product
“Since Covid, people have become more aware of where they’re buying their product and wanting to support local.
“We hope it remains that way, but we understand people might go wherever the lowest price is.”
Alison added: “Tesco and Sainsbury’s are all going to be here in five years, but the local business might not be.”
William and Alison grew up around dairy farming and have had strong encouragement since launching their business.
“Our families are really happy to see it go well. They’re always encouraging us. They’re very good at supporting us,” they said.
Social media is an important tool for the farm, both commercially and educationally.
“I feel farmers maybe have alienated their consumers a little, in that we let supermarkets take control of food,” William said.
“That’s resulted in a lot of false information circulating about how we farm and what we do.
“I like social media for the ability to reach out to our consumers and show what we do here. There’s a lot of bad press around farming, unfortunately. It’s pushed by outside agendas.
“We’re not going to say that we’re perfect — we’re definitely not carbon-neutral — but we’re trying to do things that will improve that.”