After tasting milk from Farm Fresh South you may be forgiven for thinking all other products are milk-like substances. It may be the fact that the 45 Friesian, Jersey and cross-breed cows on this sustainably managed farm are only getting milked once a day. It could also be that the lack of stress these happy cows have keeps their somatic cell count super low (denoting overall health). It could be that the milk is unhomogenized and therefore has that full-cream flavour like back in the day when milk was delivered with silver top lids. At the end of the milking day though, it’s probably all of these factors and more that make Farm Fresh South milk an amazing, almost nostalgic experience.
Farm Fresh South comes to you by way of Melissa and Logan, dairy farmers who know their stuff and who have scaled from large dairy farming ventures to the 21 hectares they now run. Having been exposed to what larger operations do to get high milk outputs, they have intentionally decided to run a farm where the cows are treated in such a way as to be healthy and happy, which just so happens to produce a superior product. Avoiding high output situations, which demand chemical sprays, antibiotics and milking schedules stressing both the land and the cows, Mellissa and Logan have created a micro dairy which farms, milks, and processes all in one location — ensuring that the output is fresh as.
Logan tells us at Raeward Fresh that high output farms create land which becomes addicted to the ‘drugs’ they are given in order to keep up. He explains that “when lots of chemical fertilisers are used, the grass can’t grow without it. Like it’s addicted. We are building the natural biology in the soil and only applying natural fertiliser. In this way Farm Fresh South has chosen a kind of journey with the land and animals which nurtures each other and teaches the farmers how to curate this natural relationship without chemical fertilisers and treatments for the cows. The result of this very old-school but very natural process can be seen in the actual milk platelets under a microscope where healthy whole milk can be directly contrasted to homogenised milk where the inputs are unnatural and the milk itself is stripped of its real goodness. There are causes and effects for every process that’s “added” to the mix, whereas Farm Fresh South prides itself on as few processes as possible.
The dairy model Melissa and Logan have created has been so successful that other farmers are bringing their raw milk to Farm Fresh South to process and distribute. This innovative team are adding new products to the mix as well including full-cream chocolate milk using OCHO (Otago Chocolate Company). This, by the way is a beautiful product, not sickly sweet but rich and chocolatey and full of Pacific grown cacao goodness. Of course, all of these products are delivered in glass bottles that gets returned and reused by Farm Fresh South, a company that is reclaiming the old fashion kiwi spirit of local production delivered to locals in Southland and Otago. We’re all lucky to be in the region and having access to such beautifully made dairy by such innovative people.