A dairy farm in East Devon has set up a milk vending machine to help reconnect consumers with their food and where it comes from.
Clinton Dairy set up the machine at Otterton Mill Visitor Centre, less than 2km away from the farm, so consumers can see the cows that produce their milk grazing in the surrounding fields.
The milk supplying the machine, which is in operation 24 hours a day, is pasteurised at a purpose-built facility at Otter Farm, giving it just over one food mile.
Customers can also buy a re-useable, recyclable glass bottle for £2.50, or bring their own bottle, to help cut down on single-use plastics. Leftover milk is fed back to calves as part of a zero-waste policy.
“We wanted to give local people the opportunity to buy our fresh organic milk produced only hours before by cows grazing on their doorstep,” said Barney Tremaine, farms manager at Clinton Devon Farms Partnership.
“By cutting out the middle man and reducing food miles, the milk will be as environmentally friendly at it gets and raise the profile of organic farming, which prioritises animal welfare.”
The refrigerated vending machine holds 100 litres of whole milk, costing £1.50 per litre, and is fitted with a facility for users to pay by cash or card.
The herd of 570 cows at the farm is entirely grass-fed and outdoor reared.
Mr Tremaine explained: “Because of the extra costs involved with organic, profit margins are still tight, hence trying to cut out the middle man. The main result is much happier cows and a more environmentally friendly farming method.”
Otterton Mill co-owner, Chris Wright, said: “These machines provide a sustainable way to buy locally produced milk, so it dovetails with our own ethos.
“Our visitors will be able to go for a walk past the cows which have produced their pints of milk, so in a world where we all need to do our bit, selling milk in this way is a really positive contribution.”