During our daily lockdown walk through the village, there was one thing that seemed to be chugging along as normal and that was the installation of a milk vending machine. I thought what a brilliant innovative idea, until I found out later there are a lot of these machines popping up around the county, all serviced by their local dairies.
These vending machines could have been built especially for lockdown; locally based, no cash is required, they are automatically cleaned after each customer and there is plenty of room for social distancing.
If you haven’t used a machine before, you can buy from one vending machine an empty, one litre milk bottle with screw lid. These bottles can be used multiple times, they just need to have been well cleaned between uses; a session in the dishwasher is recommended. Each outlet have their own branded milk bottle, which makes the whole experience that little more special. You then put the empty bottle into the milk vending machine, pay using contactless card or phone and out comes the milk. When you close the door, the inside is automatically washed, ready for the next customer.
You can buy whole milk; several are organic whole milk, and you can even buy semi-skimmed milk. Some also sell eggs, cheese and other local produce – sort of a mini farm-shop, that is open 24-7.
My own village Martinstown, has one owned by Eweleaze Organic Dairy, who produces milk for Müller. Over the past month we have seen customers increase from a steady trickle to a cascade! They have even had to open up the adjacent paddock as a car park.
Noel Marsh told me the milk is pasteurised by heating to 63.5c for thirty minutes. This slower pasteurisation method keeps the milk whole with all the nutrients, especially Omega 3.
His daughter-in-law Chloe Marsh is the mastermind behind it all and she can be seen regularly driving her quad bike through the village, loaded with milk cartridges for the new vending machine. She told me that “We are delighted to be able to bring the connection back to customers as to where their milk is coming from and we are delighted to be able to help reduce single use plastic! We’ve estimated it’s about 400kg of plastic we’ve saved so far!”
Both Noel and Chloe are regulars at the vending machine and their interaction with their customers appears to be a winning formula. Noel said that it is hugely satisfying to receive positive feed back for the quality of the milk, rather than just seeing a tanker disappearing down the track.
I was also lucky enough to visit Hollis Mead Organic Farm, Hooke to see their setup. They currently have five milk vending machines around the county and one in Yeovil.
I met up with owner Oliver Hemsley and Rex Fisher at the dairy, but before we had time to chat, we were off across the fields. Oliver was keen to show me how farming can work with nature. Oliver’s firm belief is that cheap food has a cost and sadly this is nature. This is why he so passionate and is working to swing that balance, back towards nature. He pointed out lots of newly planted hedgerows and has now planted over 17 kilometers of hedges over the last 20 years. These create wonderful habitat for wildlife, first to arrive are the insects, then the birds and mammals.
Their cows are only fed a grass-based diet, with high levels of clover and are only milked once a day. Reducing stress amongst the cows and helps produce richer organic milk, with lots of Omega 3.
I have tried both Eweleaze Organic and Hollis Mead Organic, they tasted just like milk… but like milk used to taste and with a proper head of cream in the morning – delicious on your breakfast cornflakes.
Below is the list of current milk vending machines in Dorset and I fully recommend you try a pint (OK Litre) from your local. Your money goes direct to the farmers and local food producers, boosting the local economy. Supporting local foods also help to connect people with the farmers and food producers who bring them healthy foods.
You could even start a collection of milk bottles, has anyone already started one?
You can view these milk vending machines on our Directory with a searchable map – just filter the results by ‘milk vending machine’.
Hollis Mead Organic Dairy – https://www.hollismeadorganicdairy.co.uk/
- Grenville Farm, Corscombe, DT2 0NP
- Princes Place, Holt Mill, Yeovil, BA22 9RH
- Maiden Newton Service Station, Maiden Newton, DT2 0BA
- Bailey and Sons, Beaminster, DT8 3BH
- Fry’s Commercials,The Old Feed Mill, Mosterton, DT8 3HG
Eweleaze Organic Dairy – https://www.instagram.com/eweleazedairyorganic/
- Martinstown, DT2 9JN
Woodbridge Farm (aka Blue Vinny Cheese) – https://www.dorsetblue.com/milk
- Woodbridge Farm, Sturminster Newton, DT10 2BD
Meggy Moos Dairy – http://www.meggymoosdairy.co.uk/
- Park Farm, Shroton, Blandford, Dorset. DT11 8TP
Holy Cow Organic – https://www.holycoworganic.co.uk/
- Farm Shop North Perrott, Crewkerne TA18 7SS
- John Bright Fencing, Paverlands Farm, Salwayash, Bridport DT6 5HT
- Village Hall Old Rd, Odcombe, Yeovil BA22 8XP
Dorset Dairy Co – https://thedorsetdairyco.com/
- Harts of Stur, Sturminster Newton, DT10 1BD
- The Crown, Crown Road, Marnhull, DT10 1LN
- The Hub, Station Road, Stallbridge, DT10 2RG
Allen Valley Milk – https://www.instagram.com/allenvalleymilk/
- Pamphill Farm Shop, Wimborne, BH21 4ED
- The Allendale Centre, Hanham Road, Wimborne, BH21 1AS
- Damory Vets, Edward Street, Blandford, DT11 7QT
Church Farm Dairy – https://www.churchfarmdairysemley.com/
- Church Farm, Semley, SP7 9AS
Madjeston Milk Station – https://www.madjestonmilkstation.co.uk/
- Newhouse Farm Dairy, Cole Street Lane, Gillingham, SP8 5JQ
Hunts Food Outlet – http://huntsfoodoutlet.co.uk/
- Hunt’s Food Outlet, Sherborne, DT9 3NW
Liberty Dairy – https://www.libertydairy.co.uk/
- Felicity’s Farm Shop, Morecombelake, DT6 6DJ
Please note that all milk sampled was fully paid for by John.