It started on the sofa watching Countryfile and just a few months later, a farming family are launching their own raw milk business – with the first vending machine of its kind.
The Barkers milk a happy herd of more than 150 music-loving cows at North Hill Farm in Winslow. Classic FM is played in the sheds and Radio 2 plays in the milking parlour.
But the family wanted a fresh challenge. And you can’t get fresher than raw milk, straight from the udder.
They secured a licence from the Food Standards Agency, built a shack on the farm, and will launch Udderly Fresh a week today.
“It’s really exciting,” said Jim Barker, 22, who heads up the business with dad Ian, 49.
“We wanted to do something a bit different and it’s all gone pretty well. We were watching Countryfile in April and saw the idea of selling raw milk – we fell in love.”
The dream became a reality with the help of a special vending machine from Italy. It dispenses the filtered milk, collected the same day, into cartons for customers.
“I’ve drunk it all my life,” said Jim. “It’s creamier and more filling (than supermarket milk). It’s fresh from the cows, which are all grass-fed, and it’s full of extra vitamins, minerals and calcium.”
The shack, off the A413 between Winslow and Whitchurch, does not need to be manned and anyone can nip in between 6am and 7pm for one litre (£1.50) or two (£2).
Only 30 of the machines have been made and The Barkers’ is believed to be the first in the UK.
Raw milk is said to have enhanced taste and nutritional value but critics say it is not completely safe because it’s not pasteurised – heated and rapidly cooled to kill bacteria.
But Jim, who recently graduated from Harper Adams University, thinks that is simply scare-mongering. “We’re tested every fortnight,” he said. “For the last three months of production, we haven’t had any problems and we’ve been passing with flying colours.”
Jim’s mum Clare looks after the accounts and helps with calf rearing while his girlfriend Harriet Livesey was behind the logo and website. His brother Will, 20, chips in with social media coverage.
Ian said: “I am extremely excited to have my son back on the farm, working alongside me. The diversification into selling our product to the public is going to be an exciting and hopefully a positive move going forward.”