Sark's Dairy is crowdfunding for support as it pursues ambitious plans to transform local farming, stimulate the economy and secure the island's "proud spirit of independence".
Jason and Katharine Salisbury landed their "dream" job heading up the dairy last year following a high-profile search for new farmers. With it, came the task of bringing dairy farming back to the small Channel Island.
While the operation may currently be small in scale, the Salisburys have bigger ambitions which hinge on new facilities.
Pictured: The Salisburys have enough land for 16 Guernsey cows.
Having secured land for pasture and to grow feed crops, they now need to build a shelter, and secure up-to-date milking and processing facilities as part of a £480,000 project.
They have raised £230,000 to date, with "substantial pledges for the next months" already confirmed. With some of their planned fundraising scuppered by the pandemic, they are now appealing to people's generosity to help keep the project moo-ving forward.
They are seeking donations, with rewards including a limited-edition print of an iconic Sark Dairy Cow, a letter of thanks from the Seigneur of Sark and - for especially generous donors - permanent tribute on a 'wall of thanks' that will take pride of place at the new dairy.
"Our mission to secure dairy production in Sark is central to the island’s future," said the Salisburys.
Pictured: Groundwork is already underway for a new shelter, as well as up-to-date milking and processing facilities.
"The provision of a sustainable modern facility is crucial to the island’s economic future and its proud spirit of independence. The scale of the start-up is small – 16 milkers, acres, two farmers, around 500 residents – but the scope for the future is huge. For every resident, Sark has 100 visitors."
The farmers have been given a central ‘home site’ and 40 acres of land, pledged by four Sark landowners, on a 50-year peppercorn rent.
Some fields are already growing feed crops for the herd, with more in the pipeline. The farmers' hand-picked Guernseys are due to calve in Sark from the end of May 2021, so there can be daily milk and cream for the peak visitor season.
The project, they say, will be of wider benefit to Sark, as dairy production underpins so many areas of daily life. The Salisburys say that:
Daily milking means top-quality cream, butter and cheese for homes, hotels restaurants, tea gardens;
Local produce avoids importing, reduces transport miles, cuts pollution and plastic waste, and lowers our carbon footprint;
Traditional grazing helps keep historic pastures and field banks rich with grasses and wildflowers;
A new dairy business stimulates new jobs in agriculture, food processing and hospitality;
Tenant farmers with skills that include veterinary and cheese-making, can offer Sark’s young people opportunities and skills in animal husbandry and artisan food production;
A modern farm that welcomes visitors will be a major attraction for Sark’s holiday makers.
Pictured: The frame of the host building being imported into the island.
Pictured top: The Salisbury family moved over to Sark permanently last year. The crowdfunding link can be found HERE.
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