Farming couple visit tiny island where they will be setting up new dairy
PUBLISHED: 16:19 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:19 07 November 2019
A Suffolk couple set to run an idyllic new dairy business being created on the island of Sark, off the coast of France, have been out to visit the island.
Dairy farmers Jason and Katharine Salisbury are set to continue to run their Suffolk farm and cheese making enterprise - based at Coddenham, near Stowmarket - while operating the Channel Islands dairy once it comes online.
The couple, who run a successful cheesemaking operation, Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, alongside keeping a herd of pedigree Guernsey cows, were chosen to run the new dairy following a global hunt, which attracted interest from as far afield as the United States, Cyprus and New Zealand.
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The bid to find new operators followed a decision in 2017 by resident dairy farmer Chris Nightingale to retire, leaving the island's 500 residents and thousands of annual visitors in need of a new supply of fresh milk and cream. He sold his herd as continuing to farm on the site was not possible.
Sark Community Dairy Trust said "good progress" had been made in preparing to launch the new dairy business.
The trustees have still to raise more than £300k to build infrastructure, which will be leased to the Salisburys.
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"Following the Salisburys' recent visit to Sark, a target date has been agreed, with the expectation that the new herd of pedigree Guernsey cattle will be producing milk on the island in spring 2021," the trust said. "Any surplus will be made into butter and cheese."
But the trust stressed that the project was still in its very early stages.
Sark Island is a small island - only 3.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It relies on tourism and agriculture to support its economy.
It has no cars, no paved roads, no street lighting and almost no pollution - which provides a draw for more than 50,000 visitors each year.
The trust has been set up to project manage the building of the new dairy which will include an educational element, enabling local and visiting children to find out about milk production.
A total of 40 acres of land has been donated by the island's Seigneur Christopher Beaumont to build the new dairy. The Salisburys are set to import 16 calf Guernsey cows and heifers from Guernsey to Sark in early 2021 to calve around April or May.