Farming in protected landscapes- Kirkbarrow Farm23 March 2023
Kirkbarrow Farm is first and foremost a dairy farm. 300 Holstein Friesians enjoy the riches of over 420 acres of Lakeland meadows and that goodness leads to each cow producing up to 10000 litres of milk each year. Milk that farmer George Fabi sends onto dairy producer Arla who changes it into cheeses, yoghurts and of course pasteurised milk, that we may well buy and enjoy from our local supermarket.
George is a fourth-generation farmer and a local lad, originally from Tirril just up the road, and has farmed Kirkbarrow for 28 years. Though Cumbrian, George can trace his roots to Italian farmers, hence the surname! George would often spend summers in the foothills around Rome. This would inspire him as a young adult to travel the world, working on farms in New Zealand (19 no less!) and Australia, absorbing and learning the skills that would later be put into good practice at Kirkbarrow.
Not all George’s milk ends up on the supermarket shelves. He keeps some for a new venture that he has started this year. Adjacent to the farm is a new small carpark and within that, sits a shipping container. But this is no ordinary metal box. Inside visitors will find a new way of getting farm products – a row of gleaming new vending machines; truly farm retail innovation. Grab yourself a litre (or half) bottle and buy pasteurised milk that has come no more than 10 metres from the cow that produced it! You can probably hear her moo. Seeing the farm, its fields and stock just over the farm wall, reassures visitors of their purchase’s providence. If you want to add a little flavour to your milk, George’s vending machines can mix you up a milkshake – chocolate, strawberry, banana or the Sunday Special! No cash needed, just tap your card. It’s open 6am to 9pm, every day, all year.
And there’s not just milk to buy. George breeds Wagyu with his Holstein Friesians and their beef steaks and burgers are available in a freezer vending machine, along with local ice cream. There’s also local coffee and other locally produced goodies.
Though not an upland farm, Kirkbarrow does reflect the way farmers in the Lake District have adapted over the years. Changes in the way they farm the land, what they farm on that land, how they look after the land, and on occasion as George is doing, trying new ways in selling their products. So, if you’re up at the north end of Ullswater (on the B5320, CA10 2LR), make sure you pop into Kirkbarrow and top up on milk, literally straight from cow to bottle, via the farm’s pasteuriser.