If you haven’t heard of the environmental impact of the New Zealand dairy industry, congratulations. You are living blissfully under a rock. Water, effluent, nitrogen - most conventional dairy farmers (and even some organic farmers) will tell you that if these things are managed sustainably, farmers will not survive.
To us, that’s just not good enough. We’ve proven that reducing stock numbers is possible if you sell fresh milk locally and cut out expensive processing.
We’ve solved the effluent problem by building a mobile cow shed. The cows don’t come to the same building every day and stand around for hours. That means we don’t have to hose out a concrete shed after every milking. And that means we save a ton of water and our operation.
Nitrogen does seep into our paddocks. And we pull it out each spring by rotating to nitrogen hungry plants like barley and wheat. We think of it as mopping up after ourselves and we use this to feed the cows over summer.
Because we don't own a farm, our cows are nomadic, not tied to one farm. It also means that we don’t have as much pressure to farm intensively and make the most money out of each bit of land. This trap leads to higher stocking rates and increased fertiliser. If we run out of grass, we just move to a different block. And this means we’re dispersing the nutrients over a wider area to create a lower environmental footprint.
Our re-usable glass bottles also have a lower energy footprint and a much lower waste footprint. It’s hard work, washing them all, but it’s worth it. It takes more energy to make a glass bottle than a plastic bottle, but we break even on this energy calculation after about five uses. Our glass bottles get around 50 uses.
We’ve worked hard to design a system that is truly sustainable. Each bottle you buy, each flat white you sip, makes this possible.