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Crying over spilt raw milk – how an award-winning farm went from high to low overnight

L-R: Richard Park with his son Matthew Park, Alison Park, Marjorie and John Park
L-R: Richard Park with his son Matthew Park, Alison Park, Marjorie and John Park

[W]hen the Park family from Low Sizergh Farm in Cumbria won a delicious. Produce Award last year they little suspected that, a short while later, disaster was about to strike their business.

2016 became the best and worst of years. The best because in July delicious. Magazine Produce Awards judges were unanimous in their praise for Low Sizergh Farm’s raw milk, which they had only begun selling four months earlier; the worst because in December the Food Standards Agency forbade them from selling it. Why? Because a campylobacter outbreak was traced to the farm’s raw milk.

Now, with clear tests from the FSA they are finally back in business and this month have a two-page feature in the national glossy food magazine delicious.

Alison and her family are tenant farmers on the 320-acre farm which is owned by the National Trust. They run a farm shop where they sell the milk.

Alison says: “We always wanted to be able to let people taste the raw milk because it’s so different from the pasteurised and homogenised stuff.”

Despite the devastation caused by the closure Alison is determined to continue selling raw milk. “We’re really proud of the milk, we produce it to high standards and now we want to have people drinking it again. I’d never want to minimise the fact that there is risk in drinking raw milk for people who have a compromised immune system, but lessons have been learned and the quality which was good before is even better.”

Brother Richard says it also makes financial sense.  “These two years have been the worst since I’ve been dairying because of the low price of milk. Raw milk sold direct to the consumer commands a higher price and it’s a way of diversifying the farm’s production, as well as connecting with our customers.”

The milk is available via refrigerated milk vending machines, which Richard and Alison had seen on the continent and thought would be ideal for the farm.

Raw milk is available direct to buy from Low Sizergh Barn, Sizergh, Kendal LA8 8AE. Contact them on 01539 560426 or visit the website www.lowsizerghbarn.co.uk

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