A new bar opens its doors in Donegal today – but it’s udderly different from any other.
The Milk Bar, in Carrigans, offers tasty pasteurised fresh milk from an on-farm vending machine.
You’ll be able to fill up a bottle and bring it home, or enjoy a flavoured milkshake on-site.
The Milk Bar is a new venture for 23-year-old local woman Shannon Porter. Dairy farming is in her blood, and she’s delighted to be following in the footsteps of her great grandfather Jack and great grandmother Henrietta Porter.
They ran Millburn Dairies Castlefinn in the 1950s and 1960s. Back in those days, locals collected milk from the home of the farmer. Later, it was delivered by milkmen in glass bottles.
Some people still have those bottles in their homes today. And now, Shannon is giving everyone a taste of nostalgia as the tradition comes full circle.
The Milk Bar will be the first farm-side vendor of its kind in the north west. Some sprang up in Ireland during lockdown as people went back to basics and sought out more local produce.
Shannon, who works in agriculture sales, is looking forward to letting people experience the ‘unbelievable’ taste of her family’s farm-fresh milk. The farm at Lusticle, Carrigans has been in operation since 1990.
“It’s unbelievably different. We have our own pasteurisation room on the farm so we can make the milk safe to drink. But the milk is not homogenised so you have a natural layer of cream at the top. You have the fresh taste and when it’s from a glass bottle it’s keeps so much better,” Shannon explains.
“The milk you get in a supermarket sometimes is nearly two weeks old before it’s on the shelf. And then it usually has a one-week shelf life. At our farm, the cows are milked here so the milk is as fresh as you can possibly get it,” she said.
Sustainability is a priority of many businesses and many shoppers nowadays, and Shannon’s business model ticks all the boxes.
“It’s 50 metres from our pasteurisation room to the vending machine, so we are saving massive amounts of carbon miles,” she said.
When approx 8 million tons of plastic waste is dumped into the oceans every year, reusing glass bottles is one easy way to cut down on waste. Customers can buy a resuable glass bottle at the store, or bring their own to fill.
The Milk Bar is set to be a learning experience too. Customers can take away their purchases or sit in a seating area and view the farm. Plans are in place to produce videos to help children learn all about the dairy process while they enjoy their drinks.
Shannon is fresh out of college, having obtained a BSc (Hons) Agriculture Degree from Harper Adams University. She developed all her plans for The Milk Bar in her final year, and while it hasn’t been without its challenges, she’s looking forward to milking it for all its worth!