The independent farmer is the milk marketing board
“Nobody thinks buying milk has anything to do with dry stone walls,” said Eddie Andrew, which is not quite true because he thinks (and talks) about such things quite a lot.
“But we tell school children that these fields and these walls are here because you’ve bought our milk. These ash trees are in the field and this environment is looked after, simply by people buying this milk.” This weekend a new Molly arrived at Eddie’s Our Cow Molly farm at Dungworth, thanks to the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust. The original namesake of Sheffield’s award winning milk and ice cream producers is no longer roaming the farm’s 200 acres, but a new plastic Molly will now be on site to teach modern schoolchildren how milk actually comes from cows rather than supermarket shelves.“Many children can’t give you an answer when you ask them where their milk comes from,” said Sarah Traveller-Watson from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust (SRWT), who’ll be working closely with local farmers like Eddie as SRWT’s Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership spreads across north west Sheffield’s ‘lakeland’ over the next four years.“Farmers have so much impact on the landscape, and by bringing schoolchildren here we can help them understand how this farm’s supply chain is different,” said Sarah. “We can show them the chain from where the animals’ food is grown right up to when the milk ends up at their dinner table.” Eddie and his family have run school trips in the past, but found a class of school pupils takes up several hours of time for staff who should really be working the farm. So SRWT have stepped in to run the trips with their own education team based in the farm’s onsite classroom. Last Sunday, Our Cow Molly’s ‘Open Farm Sunday’ helped launch the new educational partnership, along with the milkable plastic ‘Molly’ (funded by the East Peaks Innovation Partnership LEADER scheme) primed and ready for upcoming school trips.Although children can learn facts and figures in the classroom about a typical supermarket supply chain spanning the north of England in articulated trucks running at 4 miles per gallon, Sarah said they often learn far better by experiencing a farm first hand.“Coming here and seeing there’s a different way to do things is really useful for children who we hope will go on to come up wth their own innovative ideas about energy and the use of the landscape in future.” Eddie takes pride in the farm’s solar panels, and how grass and feed for the cows is grown only yards from the dairy, and he’s done his homework about how getting grass-fed Sheffield milk to the local customer in under a day makes it sweeter and more likely to hold onto its nutrients and Omega 3 fats. His milk delivery round also pollutes the city far less than a series of mega milk trucks, he noted. Although the ‘pester power’ of children can persuade their families to buy local, Eddie wants more local businesses to follow suit.“We ask companies why they ship in food and milk from outside the city when it’s often already here? We looked at one medium sized Sheffield company whose annual milk delivery took up 60,000 road miles, for example. Unfortunately, at present air quality and food miles have no value in most company’s procurement systems.” He praises Sheffield University for thinking differently, however, after switching to Our Cow Molly for all their milk. He added that the link also works on educational grounds: on Sunday a team from the university’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures presented their initial research on the plastic v glass milk bottle question. The Sheffield public much prefer glass was the answer, and for local dairies it seems the lighter delivery weight of plastic bottles is overtaken by glass on sustainability grounds once the bottle has been reused 13 times or more. What made sense for Sheffield farmers several generations ago still makes sense today, observed the researchers. 2,000 visitors learned much of this on Sunday, and Eddie was delighted. “These days every independent farmer is the milk marketing board,” he said. More info:https://www.wildsheffield.comhttp://www.ourcowmolly.co.uk