Maple Field Milk: We Need an Equivalent of CAMRA for Milk!

4th October 2014 As I pushed up through the fog past Vernditch Woods and on up over the Ridge of Chalk at Hut and Lodge, Radio 3 burbled through with Songs of the Auvergne and the particular favourite song of mine called ‘Bailero’ – What a Monday! On down to my first drop at Chalk Valley Stores……time 7 am. Four crates of fresh local milk on their award-winning doorstep. No-one to see. Too early. Then on down the Ebble Valley to Coombe Bissett Shop where cheerful Mary greets me like the friend I have become. We have joined a community of shop keepers, pub landlords and restaurateurs; of theatres and cafes and emboldened doorsteps. With 35 drops to make on the round I probably encounter 70 -100 people. This is repeated three times a week. You get to know all the people. We speak endlessly of ‘freshness’; of the world milk price (why?); of the antics of skinny Eric and podgy Myrtle

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back on Maple Field Farm (both new calves). Caroline gives me a coffee at the Borough Café, Downton. We talk of the new dairy farm at Nunton from which we now draw most of the milk. This is not a new dairy farm – it is new to us. Grass fed, free range, an outdoor herd of British Friesian crossed with Jersey cows making, I imagine, a Frersey ….or a Jesian. I like the Jesian as it sounds biblical and pastoral. We are lucky and excited. For the first time we have a contract. Onto Fordingbridge and the George Inn by the River Avon. I park the van outside the Estate Agents and bribe Rebecca with fresh milk to mind the van against traffic wardens. Semi-skimmed protection money. This is our extensive community. All the talk is of dairy; of progress and of integrated food supplies from no more distance than 12 miles. What better way to spend Monday? More and more news of falling milk prices paid to the dairy farmer. More cracking of knuckles and wringing of hands. The Radio 4 early morning Farming Today might as well just put the 15 minute show on repeat. Nothing will change whilst we allow three vast Dairy companies to process and distribute all our fresh milk. Look at the success of the Campaign for Real Ale started in 1976 (CAMRA). Badly behaved enormous brewery companies had to change their methods as a direct result of demand from the consumers of real ale. Now there are 1000 micro brewers in Britain. Most pubs you visit have ‘guest beers’ on tap. Soon 30 shops around Salisbury and Fordingbridge will have ‘guest’ milk on offer. Three of our shops have gone over to us entirely to supply them. Farmers for Action would be far more feared by the processors if they turned their attention to the quiet mass of people who drink their products every day of the year. A blockade is remembered for a week. It isn’t even noticed by the customers. Nick Snelgar

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