When lockdown struck and more people pledged to shop local, it was the perfect time for Brookvale Farm in Dromore to expand their latest project ‘It’s Just Milk’.
Brookvale Farm is a third generation dairy farm based on the Redhills in Co. Down and is run by father and son team Thomas and Richard and their wives Olive and Pamela.
Olive’s main role on the farm is calf rearing, while Pamela, following a career change from being a Chartered Accountant, heads up the latest project ‘It’s Just Milk’.
After a number of technological advances on the farm over the past number of years, the idea of being able to provide the local community and further afield with farm fresh milk, gently pasteurised on the farm continued to be a passion of the Lilburn family.
“After extensive research the decision to set up a pasteurising unit on farm along with a milk vending machine was made,” explained Pamela.
“The food miles and plastic waste involved in supermarket milk are extortionate and this was a big factor in our decision to diversify; cutting both of these considerably.”
Covid hit as they were in the planning phase and caused a few bumps in the road; however little did they know this was a blessing in disguise.
“The population’s want for local produce grew day by day and the result of this was the milk vending machine launch being a big hit,” continued Pamela.
“In February 2021 we launched ‘It’s Just Milk’ here on Brookvale Farm. We offer customers the option to purchase 1ltr and 500ml reusable glass bottles which they can then fill with rich, creamy whole milk from the herd of pedigree Holstein cows, pasteurised right here on farm.
“We also offer three core milkshake flavours - banana, chocolate and strawberry - with an added ‘flavour of the week’.”
Richard, Pamela, Richard and Olive have been blown away by the support they have received from people wanting to support the local business.
“The support from the local community has been phenomenal and we are continuing to see the want to eat and shop local grow,” continued Richard.
The family have recently ordered a second vending machine in order to keep up with the demand, as well as introducing 50 free range chickens providing them with fresh eggs for their customers to purchase.
“At Brookvale Farm we encourage our visitors to see the farm,” said Pamela. “Visitors can view our cows, calves and robotic milking system during their visit and make use of our beautiful picnic tables overlooking the chickens on farm.”
Most recently the family decided to begin a fundraising drive to raise vital funds for the NI Children’s Hospice.
“Having been so well supported by the local community we felt as a family it was only right to give something back,” explained Pamela.
“We have had a number of children visit the farm who have been receiving care from the NI Children’s Hospice and so we felt in our hearts that they should be our first chosen charity.
“They are an incredible charity here in Northern Ireland and provide valuable care to so many.
“Our charity bottle incorporates the NI Children’s hospice logo and is printed in the charity’s colour.”
For every charity bottle sold £1 will be donated to the NI Children’s Hospice.
The reusable glass bottles and milk can be purchased from the vending machine on Brookvale Farm.
Find out more about Brookvale Farm and the charity effort, at https://www.wearebrookvalefarm.co.uk/.