A dairy farm near Melton is thriving after falling milk prices led to the family which owns it diversifying the business into making its own ice cream and setting up a cafe.
Peter and Vanessa Darlington have praised Melton Council for supporting it in the venture, at Brickfield Farm in Leesthorpe, by offering business help and guidance on planning and environmental health issues.
The council has worked for the last three years with the family on developing The Dairy Barn Cafe, which has created 27 new jobs in the area, used local construction companies and sourced ingredients from local producers.
Visitors to the farm can watch their popular homemade Ferneley’s ice cream being made from a viewing gallery and there are lots of family-friendly facilities such as a large sports field, a toddlers’ play area, sand pit, climbing frame. as well as an indoor function room and outdoor patio seating where people can enjoy home-made cakes, light lunches and snacks.
Mrs Darlington said: “Melton Borough Council has supported our project right from day one.
“Environmental Health advised us from the very early stages of the project which was invaluable to us.
“Several Councillors have actively supported our project both at borough and Parish level and continue to offer help when needed.”
The Darlington Family moved to the farm in the 1930s with just three cows and not a great deal of farming experience.
Over the next 80 years they expanded to a 100-strong herd of Holstein and Fresian cattle and had been using their milk to supply the Stilton cheese industry.
They needed to diversify when milk prices plummeted and thanks to a family friend experimenting with their milk to make ice cream, an idea was sown and Ferneley’s ice cream was created.
The Darlingtons approached Melton Council in February 2015 to discuss their fledgling business idea and began to work closely with the economic development team and environmental health in order to develop their business offering. Regional LEADER funding paid for their ice cream equipment.
After a visit to the farm, council chief executive, Edd de Covely, said: “They have not only developed a truly wonderful product in their artisan ice cream but they offer a range of activities for families too making their business another great attraction in the borough and strengthening our reputation as the Rural Capital of Food.”
Deputy councillor leader, Councillor Leigh Higgins, who is ward member for the area, said: “It’s fantastic to see what a positive impact we have been able to have in developing their business and what a great asset it’s going to be for the borough.
“We will continue to work with the family over the coming years and I look forward to seeing how their business develops and grows and enhances our already excellent tourist offering.
“Melton Borough Council prides itself on delivering excellent customer service and supporting our community in their ventures and we encourage entrepreneurs to enlist our help in developing their business ideas into fruition.
“Job creation is essential to building thriving communities and not only have the Darlingtons utilised local construction companies but they have gone on to create 27 new jobs in the borough which is marvellous.”
Any business owner requiring practical guidance from the borough council is invited to contact customer services at 01664 502502.