Dairy farmers prepare to install on-farm milk vending machine

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WOODSTOCK Dairy lovers soon will be able to buy fresh milk on tap, straight from the farm.

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Golspie Dairy, a family farm and cheesemaker on the outskirts of Woodstock in Oxford County, plans to install this summer at its new dairy processing plant a milk vending machine, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the region and possibly, the province.

“The local community and tourists can just come to our farm and fill up a bottle of milk that was produced that morning or the day before,” said Marja DeBoer-Marshall, operations manager and co-owner alongside her husband, Laurence, whose family has lived on the farm for nearly 150 years.

“It’s definitely the freshest milk that you can get.”

The processing plant and retail store are set to open in July at the 32-cow farm. The plant recently was chosen as one of 150 small businesses to receive a Desjardin GoodSpark grant, of which $20,000 will be used to buy and ship the vending machine from Switzerland.

More than 6,000 Canadian businesses applied for a grant. “So, it’s incredibly humbling to be one of those 150 picks,” DeBoer-Marshall said.

While the fresh milk dispensary is nothing new for farmers in Europe, only a small handful in Canada own such equipment.

Akin to a typical vending machine, customers insert their credit card or coins, choose between two kinds of milk — white or chocolate — and wait for the product to be dispensed. They can choose to bring their own bottle or buy a glass one at the on-farm retail store.

The machine has two options: “You can get pasteurized, non-homogenized … and then option No. 2 is chocolate milk — that same pasteurized, non-homogenized milk. But we’ve already done the work for you and mixed in the chocolate flavor to make it extra delicious,” DeBoer-Marshall said.

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The idea to sell fresh milk on-farm had floated around for years, but DeBoer-Marshall and her husband’s plans to turn it into a reality started 18 months ago.

“We’ve been kind of daydreaming for the last five or six years about having this machine, and then it’s grown from that into other dairy products,” she said. “I learned how to make cheese, and here we are.”

DeBoer-Marshall said the decision to invest in new equipment came during a time when they “needed to figure out how to transition the business to the next generation and have it still be sustainable.”

The couple also plan to install a vending machine that offers customers various British-style cheeses.

Customers will be able to buy farm fresh milk between 10 am and 8 pm seven days a week. Prices have yet to be finalized, but DeBoer-Marshall said it would cost around $2 a litre.

DeBoer-Marshall noted there are more than 300 milk producers across Oxford County, whose product must leave the county to get processed.

“So, it’s kind of cool that we’re going to be the first one offering county milk in Oxford County, processing it ourselves.”

Taking a chance on the new facility is a “pretty big leap of faith,” said DeBoer-Marshall, noting it’s required immense preparation, including meeting various health and safety requirements.

Nonetheless, it’s an investment she and her husband are excited to pursue.

“Friends of ours (who) have lived in other countries talked about how great these machines were. We’re really excited to bring that same technology (here).”

Calvi Leon is a local journalism initiative reporter based at the London Free Press. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

cleon@postmedia.com
twitter.com/CalviatLFPress

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