A Parksville, B.C. dairy farm offers a unique visitor experience with its milk – the beverage can be served on tap.
Morningstar Farm recently graduated from the province’s Cottage Industry Program, which states that new dairy farmers cannot sell milk directly to customers for 15 years.
For that time, the milk from the 50-cow herd was used to make cheese.
Now, for $2 per litre, guests can fill up bottles, glasses or pitchers at the farm’s on-site milk-dispensing machine to enjoy a fresh serving of the beverage. Guests can bring their empty containers back to be washed and refilled.
The machine combines the farm’s goals of selling directly to its customers while also reducing the amount of packaging and waste it produces.
“We looked at ways to sell our liquid milk, whether it be shipping periodically or selling directly to the consumers,” Raymond Gourlay, co-owner of Morningstar Farm, told Farms.com today. “The most common way would be a milk-bottling line, but that’s a huge investment that takes up a lot of physical space. This machine fits right in line with our mandate.”
Gourlay looked to Europe for inspiration, where milk dispensers are prevalent throughout the continent. He found a Swiss-made machine and, CAD$13,000 later, the dispenser had been shipped and installed at the farm, making it the first one in North America.
And so far, reviews have been favorable.
“It’s quite a bit richer,” Barbara Smith, a customer since the machine’s soft launch last year, told CHEK yesterday. “It’s not like 2 per cent or 1 per cent, or even homogenized. It’s just got a really good flavour.”
The unique interaction at the farm also helps bridge the gap between urban and rural communities, Gourlay says.
Receiving the proper permission to install the dispenser took some time, too.
“We have one regulatory body for inside the plant and one for outside the plant,” Gourlay said. “This project required both of them working together to make sure we were doing things the right way.”
Gourlay isn’t opposed to installing more machines throughout the community, but for now one is enough, he said.