UFU farm diversification runner up – Alison and William Chestnutt
Friday, 8 January, 2021
The Milk Hut at Chestnutt’s dairy farm, is runner up in the first ever Ulster Farmers’ Union farm diversification competition.
For Alison and her husband William Chestnutt, farming was a way of life growing up. Both hailing from dairy businesses, they now farm in partnership on William’s family farm located on the outskirts of Portrush. More commonly known as Chestnutt’s Farm.
Diversifying, the pair set up The Milk Hut during the coronavirus pandemic. They sell pasteurised non homogenised whole milk directly to the public through a milk vending machine which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. They also have a second vending machine from which visitors can purchase branded Chestnutt Farm glass bottles (one litre and 250ml), fresh eggs and other locally produced products. This includes Causeway Coffee, hot chocolate spoons from Chocolate Manor, wheaten mix from Amazin Grazin and Broighter Gold oil.
Very early on in their diversification journey, Alison and William discovered that people are eager to know where their food comes from. Consumers enjoy coming to the farm to buy their milk and getting an insight into what happens on a working farm.
Getting out to sell milk on busy days during the summer when restrictions had eased and meeting members of their community, was one of last year’s highlights for them. They received great feedback and sold approximately 6000 litres and 250ml bottles. Many came back for refills and Alison and William were pleasantly surprised by the quantity of milk they sold in the first five months of business, especially amid such unprecedented times.
Getting a new project up and running is never a straightforward process and it was challenging to anticipate how much demand there would be for their product in the beginning. William credits his hard work ethic and perseverance skills which he developed from agriculture, as being key to their success. Alison credits her experience working with the agri-food industry, it provided her with essential knowledge that proved to be invaluable.
William and Alison hope that The Milk Hut will continue to go from strength to strength and advises anyone who is considering to diversifying their farm business, to carry out extensive research and to never underestimate the work involved.
To keep up to date with The Milk Hut you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
The milk hut
Fresh milk from the milk hut