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Shropshire farm launches milk vending operation

A dairy farm has transformed part of its old milking parlour into a self-service hut, vending pints and produce direct to customers.

James Chatham
James Chatham

The Chatham family, of Brockton Grange, invested in the new technology as a way to offer people quality, affordable, high welfare produce straight from the farm gate.

The business, H W Chatham & Co, at Brockton, near Shifnal, now has two vending machines, one which allows people to buy milk and another that sells their reusable one litre glass bottles, organic cheese and free range eggs.

James Chatham represents Shropshire on the NFU West Midlands dairy board and his family’s business was established in 1944; the bulk of their milk goes to the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative, OMSCo.

He said: “We have been caring for cows on our award winning family farm for three generations and our ladies have the freedom to graze on pastures grown on healthy Shropshire soil, full of natural goodness, producing milk we’re proud to sell fresh from the farm.

“We have created a customised self-service dairy hut in part of our old milking parlour and we now have two vending machines so people can come and buy direct.

“People can purchase organic cheese and free range eggs from one, while at the other they can fill reusable bottles or their own suitable containers with fresh, gently pasteurised, unprocessed, organic milk.

“We wanted to look at ways of improving our business and after speaking to other farmers who sell milk directly from their farms we were inspired to create our own; this will deliver for customers but also boost the Chatham’s brand.”

The family has a 270-strong dairy herd, milked twice a day, and the business was certified organic nearly 20 years ago.

As the milk is unprocessed customers will get an old fashioned cream line at the top, which can be mixed in or scooped off if needed.

A litre will cost £1.30 and the dairy hut is open from 6.30am to 8pm.

The launch event will be on Sunday 25 from 10am to 4pm and those who go along will be offered a free litre while stocks last!

James said: “We feel the self-service hut is a great way of serving the community with farm fresh milk.

“People can purchase directly from us with zero food miles, help reduce plastic waste by using one of our specially designed refillable glass bottles or their own suitable containers and we can get a fair price.”

The freshly pumped liquid, once pasteurised, is transferred into the tank of the vending machine and the machine steam cleans itself after every use.

Jeremy Lowe, NFU regional dairy lead, said: “We’re always delighted to see farmers taking the initiative and creating opportunities for business growth.

“This is a great for Chatham’s and an excellent way to engage further with shoppers, who we know are supportive of British food and farmers.

“We wish James and family all the best with the new venture and I’m sure it will be a big hit with the community.

“The NFU continues to do all it can for the sector, working with our dairy members to create a better functioning dairy industry.

“British milk products are nutritious, affordable and traceable with farmers operating to rigorous standards and the sector remains vital to Shropshire’s economy and communities.”

For further details on the business people can go to chathamsorganicdairy.co.uk

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