MILK sales have doubled for a Semley farm during the Covid-19 pandemic, as its vending machine has been deemed “a resounding success”.

Church Farm Dairy has been pasteurising milk onsite and selling it through a vending machine since August 2017, but the family-run business says its sales “more than doubled” between February and April, as people avoided larger outlets and supermarkets.

During lockdown residents discovered local farm enterprises like Church Farm Dairy as a replacement to their usual means of shopping.

This was an opportunity for customers to experience the difference between the farm’s milk, which is milked from the cow and pasteurised in less than thirty minutes, and supermarket milk.

Describing the vending machine scheme as “a resounding success”, Jacob Bowerman of Church Farm Dairy said: “We decided to diversify three years ago into selling our milk direct to the consumer. We are so thankful to our local community for supporting our venture.

“We are proud to be able to provide fresh whole milk, a nutritious staple wholefood with zero food miles right on their doorstep.”

Jacob, who is the third generation of the family milking cows at Church Farm, added: “It is also rewarding to know our milk is staying local - we get lots of great feedback and it’s nice to be connected with the whole process, from cow to consumer.”

Yesterday Jacob and Jenny Allen, also of Church Farm Dairy, hosted a virtual tour of the site via Facebook Live, to educate viewers about the milk business, how it added value to the farm and how more than 100 cows are managed.

As part of Free Range Dairy Network’s Pasture Promise scheme, the Bowermans are committed to grazing their British Friesian cows in fields for a minimum of 180 days a year - broken down, 18 hours a day.

Neil Darwent, director of Free Range Dairy Network, said: “People who couldn’t find fresh milk, or wanted to avoid big supermarkets during the pandemic, have discovered delicious free range milk and a way to directly support their local farmers.

“Milk vending machine ventures like that operated at Church Farm offer people a chance to connect directly with the farmers who produce it. Milk lovers want to know more about the provenance of their milk and are seeking a clear assurance that cows are free to graze in fields."