Sark Dairy Trust calls for support

SARK wants its dairy industry to be entirely self-sufficient and is relying on islanders to support the building of a new dairy farm, which could lead to more land management projects in the future.

In 2019, the island began searching for a new dairy farmer to move to the island with their own cows.

The story was picked up by national media outlets and Jason and Katherine Salisbury were selected from more than 80 applicants from all over the world.

Now, building work is well under way and a Sark Dairy Trust has been set up to lead a community fundraising project so the island can keep its milk local.

Katharine and Jason Salisbury with children James and Emily, Edd the sheepdog and one of their Guernseys. (29102901)

Chairman and trustee, and also Seigneur of Sark, Christopher Beaumont owns the land, which has been in his family for generations.

‘People who come to Sark love what it has to offer agriculturally so it was important that this land be used in that way,’ he said.

The construction of the new Sark Dairy is underway, thanks to funds raised by the Sark Dairy Trust. Image shared by Sark Community Dairy Twitter. (29102880)

‘If not for agricultural use, a field could be used for development or monoculture so I was passionate to find tenants who would help keep the ethos of the island.’

Calling it the most important project in Sark for decades, Mr Beaumont explained how £480,000 would need to be raised for the full public-owned dairy.

‘The farmers will be tenants of the trust, meaning they will not be saddled with the debt, which would be impossible to pay off in a reasonable time-frame.

‘Our goal is to use the dairy herd as a reason to manage the landscape as it has been for hundreds of years,’ he said.

Visitors and locals will be able to visit the dairy farm, with a viewing platform being built above the milking parlour, a new shop and the chance for people to bring their own milk bottles to fill up right there and then – giving people a chance to get up close and personal with the animals which are providing them fresh milk.

The construction of the new Sark Dairy is underway, thanks to funds raised by the Sark Dairy Trust. Image shared by Sark Community Dairy Twitter. (29102884)

In time it is hoped to kick-start the beef industry and the trust will continue raising money to carry out other land-management projects in the island, such as repopulating one area with ‘Golden Guernsey’ goats.

Mr Beaumont added: ‘Our aim is to keep the landscape of the island managed in an agricultural way that might have fallen away over the past 10 or 20 years.

Becoming self-sufficient with milk in the summer months is a key goal, directing produce to higher-value products such as cheese, cream and ice cream in the winter months when visitor levels drop.

While Mr Salisbury is a prize-winning cattle breeder, his wife is a cheesemaker and vet – making the perfect pairing who wholeheartedly believe in the future of small farming and artisanal produce.

So far, over £120,000 has been raised and the trust is confident the project will be finished by the time the new farmers and their cows head over in spring 2022.

The herd has been selected and the idea is that they will be in Sark ready to calve in the island.

  • To donate to the project and to find out more, visit sarkdairytrust.com.

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