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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Milk vending machine venture was ‘too good of an opportunity to ignore’ for two farming couples

That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, catches up with the couples behind Daisy’s Dairy Milk Vending Machine.

“Daisy’s Dairy Milk Vending Machine opened in August 2021 as a joint venture between farming couples, Reg & Christina Leppard and Jim & Lorna Burdge.

With a dairy farm ideally situated on the side of the A30 in East Devon between the busy towns of Chard and Honiton, having a milk vending machine for the local community and passing holiday traffic was too good an opportunity to ignore.

Initially, we visited lots of other milk vending machines and made contact online with milk vendors in different areas of the UK to gather ideas and information, as well as joining the UK Milk Venders’ Facebook group.

All of the milk pasteurised for the milk vending machine is produced on-farm from our herd of 100 autumn calving cows, who are managed by Reg on a low-input grazing-based system and housed over the winter period.

Milk vending machine

The herd is mainly crossbred cows, with a small number of Jerseys and Holstein cows, milked twice a day through a 16:16 herringbone parlour.

Keeping things simple was key to this diversification project so that it fitted in around other farm work and young families.

Everything is done on-farm. Milk is gently pasteurised in our own micro-dairy, usually during morning milking, and travels a mere 50 meters from the micro-dairy to the milk vending machine when it is ready to be refilled.

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To do this, we invested in a 120L single-phase pasteuriser, a 300L holding tank and churns to transport and hold the milk inside the milk vending machine.

We liked the idea of offering two different volumes of milk easily to customers, so we purchased a Brunimat bi-fluid milk vender, which dispenses both 500ml and 1L volumes.

The machine is also fitted with a sensor to alert us when milk levels are becoming low and need a refill.

Produce machine

Alongside our milk vending machine, we purchased a Jofemar bottle/produce machine where people can buy 500ml and 1L reusable glass bottles, eggs from a neighbouring farm, cheese, butter, local honey and snacks.

Following feedback from other milk vendors, both the milk vending machine and bottle/produce machine accept contactless card payments only, with cash only required for milkshake syrups.

We decided to offer 8 different milkshake flavours, which would allow us to change one or two each week as specials.

We quickly found that chocolate, strawberry, banana, salted caramel, Bischoff and raspberry were consistently people’s favourites, and so these six are available at all times.

Moreover, we are very active on our social media platforms and like to keep our followers up-to-date with different things happening on the farm throughout the year, which we feel is important in reconnecting people with agriculture and food production.

We love meeting our customers and answering any questions they have, and hearing their feedback about our milk.

It is encouraging how many people have made the switch to our milk due to its creamy flavour and top up their bottles multiple times a week, in the knowledge that our milk is fully traceable from our cows to our customers with no middle man or food miles.”

Note for readers:

Jim and Lorna are the dairy farm tenants, with Reg managing this herd of cows full-time and living on-site with his wife, Christina.

The majority of the milk produced is sold to Saputo Dairy UK.

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