Milk vending machine a hit in market town as farmers fulfil dream

A milk vending machine is proving to be a real hit after the pandemic spurred one farming family to fulfil their dream and supply fresh milk to their local community.

Marina Rae and daughter Lauren Silvey at the milk vending machine in Teme Street
Marina Rae and daughter Lauren Silvey at the milk vending machine in Teme Street

Thanks to a match-funded grant from Shropshire Council, Marina and Mick Rae have been able to launch micro dairy Just Jerseys, with a focus on traditional low-input farming methods.

The Jersey milk produced at the dairy has been supplying a vending machine located in a milk hut on Teme Street, Tenbury Wells.

Marina said: "We moved up here from Marlborough in Wiltshire with my husband's dairy job. He actually manages a herd of 120 black and white Friesians.

"What we wanted to do was do something for ourselves and the community. We started a micro dairy as we wanted to provide fresh milk for our community.

"It was our dream anyway to own some Jerseys and have some kind of smallholding.

"We don't own a farm, we rent some land. We went around door knocking, asking if anyone had 10 acres we could rent. We put loads and loads of flyers out.

"We were lucky because one family said they loved the idea of what we were trying to do with the micro dairy and vending machine, and said here is some land and a couple of barns."

Marina Rae and daughter Lauren Silvey at the milk vending machine in Teme Street, Tenbury Wells

The pedigree Jersey cows are milked twice a day using a mobile milking machine in the field where they graze, and pasteurised using a mobile micro dairy.

The milk is then made available in environmentally-friendly glass bottles.

Customers are able to pour their own milk into the bottles from the vending machine or even bring their own vessels. Children also have the option for a milkshake from the Mooshake bar, available at the vending machine area.

Just Jerseys also provides a delivery service offering raw and pasteurised milk, inspired by the community spirit during lockdown and having a focus in allowing the vulnerable and elderly to also have access to their product.

Marina said: "What we did in lockdown was realised the importance of buying local and we have been very well supported by the community.

"We have been out to the village of Orleton where me and my daughter took out about 40 litres. It's a village hall coffee morning, we tag along, and the people there bring their empty bottles back. We take a new bottle out to them, either a milk or milkshake.

"That was our dream in the beginning – going around villages and provide milk to people who perhaps couldn't get out to the vending machine."

Marina said the pandemic and time spent in lockdown has meant their dream has been fulfilled a lot sooner than expected.

"I think the pandemic spurred us to do it even more. My husband is 10 years older than me and he had been thinking about what to do when he retired.

"The only thing he has known since leaving the Army is farming.

"We were extremely lucky to come across a grant from Shropshire Council.

"It was a match-funded Economic Recovery Grant which was helping businesses after lockdown to get going.

"With my husband's three pensions, we begged and borrowed, and managed to match-fund it.

"We were extremely lucky to get the position we did and we have been very well supported by the community.

"I think the pandemic has definitely made people do things they perhaps wouldn't have done so soon in life."

Feed, fertiliser, fuel and labour costs have all risen dramatically in the past 12 months, squeezing margins from profit into loss for many farmers.

As a result many farmers are branching out from traditional farming by adding new money-making activities.

Marina added: "We need to think very differently with farming nowadays ­– particularly with things like rising costs. We need to consider every avenue. Ask lots of questions and do your research.

"The vending machine is hard work, but it is well worth it when you see the public's faces when they are down at the vending machine and they are always thanking us for bringing it to Tenbury. Some times it's not all about the money."

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