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Canada invite for organic dairy couple

Nick and Barbara Michell of Barwick Farm, TregonyA couple who set up Cornwall's first organic dairy farm processing its own milk have attracted worldwide attention. Nick and Barbara Michell, of Barwick Farm in Tregony, have been so successful that they are travelling to Canada later this month to talk at the world jersey cattle conference in Ontario about what has been achieved.

The couple, who are exhibiting at this year's Royal Cornwall Show, started selling produce from their Jersey cows at Truro farmers' market six years ago. In 2001, helped by investment from Objective One, they expanded from selling cakes cooked up in the family kitchen to produce from a new on-farm dairy. Since then the business has not looked back.

The story began in 1999 when, facing plummeting milk prices, Nick and Barbara set themselves a five-month target of turning round their business or giving up farming altogether. "I found a recipe to make butter in the Kenwood chef book,” said Barbara. "Armed with some homemade butter, cakes and biscuits, we set up at Truro farmers’ market and sold out within just two hours.”

The Michells soon expanded their range to include cream, clotted cream and milk, all initially processed in their small kitchen using traditional recipes. They built up to seven farmers' markets a week on top of processing, farming, Barbara's part-time job as a school cook and looking after three young daughters.

Barbara decided to give up her school job to concentrate on the growing business. Then, after getting new contracts with the local village shop and an organic shop in Truro she shelved the cakes, biscuits and a few farmers' markets in order to concentrate on retail and wholesale markets.

In 2002 the Michells completed the new dairy with the help of Objective One investment via Business Link, an organisation which supports businesses with advice and finance. The dairy building and equipment, including a new cream separator, butter churn and refrigerators, cost just under £50,000. They also received some investment from Taste of the West, another Objective One gateway fund, to help to buy a computer and printer to produce advertising leaflets. "We wouldn’t be where we are today with out the help of Business Link and Objective One,” said Mr Michell.

As the business grew they rented another 58 acres, more than doubling the size of the Cornwall County Council owned farm and increased their herd size to 60 milking cows and 38 youngstock calving all year round.

They now produce around 250,000 litres of milk a year which is all processed at the dairy. Barwick completed organic conversion in 2003, becoming Cornwall's first organic dairy farm, processing its own milk and the couple contacted many potential outlets to boost business. "That’s when we were really able to move on,” said Barbara.

They now attend three produce markets a week, supply nine farm shops, one on-line store and 30 retailers, delicatessens and restaurants. The business is on target for a £100,000 annual turnover and pays for a relief milker and two part-timers in the dairy.

Barwick has also received a number of food and diversification awards and the Michells have been acclaimed as Rick Stein Food Superheros.

For further information please contact Clare Morgan, the Objective One Partnership Office on 01872 223439 or 07973 813647 or email:

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Rural Business Support Initiative and Taste of the West through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).


Editor's notes:



Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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