What does it take to produce an award-winning ice cream?
A lot of dedication, taste-testing, early mornings plus a decent herd of goats and cows.
At the Dartington Estate in Devon, farming couple Jon and Lynne Perkin took on the tenancy at Old Parsonage Farm in March 2015 and set about transforming the farm into a commercial dairy via their herd of goatlings and the management of the Sharpham Jersey herd of cows later that year.
In 2016 the Dartington Dairy was launched in 2016, working with a local specialist to make ice cream from their first batch of goats’ milk.
Excited by the opportunities that they felt were available at Old Parsonage Farm, through diversifying away from more traditional farming practices, they developed the idea of starting a goat dairy, selling the milk and other products locally and directly to the customer. For Jon and Lynne it is also important that the farm provides public access and education around farming, enabling people to understand the farm environment and the provenance of their food. Currently, this is through farm open days and the different ‘Milking’ and ‘Farmer for the Day’ experiences on offer.
After a lot of frustration in trying to secure finance through government funding initiatives and speaking to their bank, Jon and Lynne spent close to £10k in professional assistance in gathering documents and information to be told that the goalposts of their loan had moved. After speaking to a family friend, Jon was introduced to FOLK2FOLK as a possible solution to provide the £75k as a business loan to help with the business.
“I wish I had come to FOLK2FOLK at the very beginning as we would’ve saved a lot of money and time. I couldn’t believe how simple the loan process was. It was a breath of fresh air working with a company that uses common sense and listens to you as a business. We got a decision in under two days and the money was in our account three weeks later. I had given up on the high-street banks completely. It was a totally easier, better and happier experience dealing with FOLK2FOLK.”
Jon and Lynne used the funds to develop the dairy by purchasing essential processing equipment and investing in the brand to make it more marketable to potential buyers and consumers.
Dartsington Dairy’s product range varies from ice cream to milk and kefir yogurt. Their unique and secret way of making ice cream has landed them with a Great Taste Gold Star Award for their chocolate ice cream. Having tasted it ourselves we can see why! The other flavours are also delicious.
The produce is currently sold across 40 local retail outlets in the south west, but Jon and Lynne have ambitions to sell across the UK and through larger supermarkets over the next 2 years as the business matures and gains more awareness.
Jon takes a trial approach to new business partnerships and challenges shops to help change perceptions about goat’s milk products. So far, he has not had to refund any of his 40 retail customers as they all continue to increase their orders.
“We are investing in the business for the long-term. Our team of six, is super dedicated but we are always keen to get talented and hard-working staff to help grow the dairy and get as many people trying and buying our products. It’s reassuring to know that our lenders believed in us and we want to ensure that we use their money wisely to build a profitable business.”
The future of the dairy is certainly looking mint and with more flavours and products in the pipeline, we can expect even more exciting developments to come from this hard working team in Dartington.