Canada invite for organic dairy
A 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
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
For further information please contact Clare Morgan, the
Objective One Partnership Office on 01872 223439 or 07973
813647 or email: email@example.com.
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).
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439
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