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Jay and Katja Wilde of Bradley Nook Farm in the U.K. have recently launched a new oat milk subscription service, ditching their traditional dairy farm operations to produce the ethical and sustainable plant-based alternative. Working with Refarm’d, a London-based startup that helps farmers transition into the plant-based dairy business, their fresh oat milk is now being delivered in reusable glass bottles across the Midlands.
Based in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, Bradley Nook Farm has been transformed into a plant-based dairy business. Run by Jay and Katja Wilde, the farm used to be a conventional dairy operation and later produced organic beef, but they decided to stop the unethical and unsustainable practice in 2017 and make the switch to plant crops instead.
Now ambassadors of the popular movement Veganuary, Jay and Katja’s farm became the centre of the BAFTA award-winning documentary 73 Cows. “I just couldn’t send them to their death at the slaughterhouse any longer,” said Jay.
With the help of The Vegan Society and Vegan Organic Network, the Wildes decided to transfer their existing herd to the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk.
I just couldn’t send them to their death at the slaughterhouse any longer.Jay Wilde, Bradley Nook Farm
The former dairy farmers hadn’t fully completed the switch to their new business model until partnering up with startup Refarm’d, who helps farmers repurpose their operations into plant-based beverage production using local, organic ingredients. Founded by Geraldine Starke, Refarm’d also works alongside farmers to convert their land into animal sanctuaries.
“The dairy industry is struggling,” Starke told Veganuary in a recent interview, noting the mass consumer shift away from dairy in recent years, a trend that has only accelerated even more amidst the coronavirus pandemic supply chain breakdown. “I believe that to help our farmers, we need to work with them and help them get out of this system.”
Refarm’d now sells fresh oat milk made by Bradley Nook Farm through a subscription model available in shops and cafés across the Midlands region, where customers can pick up their batch in reusable glass bottles. Still in beta mode, customers are encouraged to offer their feedback to continue to improve their plant-based milks.
The Wildes of Bradley Nook Farm are only the first of the startup’s partners so far, with more transitioning farms set to launch their plant-based beverage offerings in the coming months too.
I believe that to help our farmers, we need to work with them and help them get out of this system.Geraldine Starke, Refarm’d
One of the early pioneers of helping farmers transition into sustainable options is the Swedish oat milk brand Oatly. In 2017, the company supported dairy farmer Adam Arnesson to switch to growing oats instead of raising dairy cattle.
Oatly used Arnesson’s oats to create a specialty line of oat milk, and also monitored the environmental impact of his transitioned farm. At the end, Arnesson saw a significant reduction in emissions while his profits steadily increased.
There are also instances where livestock farmers have switched to cultivating mushrooms, and dairy farmers turning into cashew growers to make plant-based cheeses, a transition model that leading dairy alternative brand Miyoko’s Creamery is promoting in California.
All images courtesy of Bradley Nook Farms / Refarm’d.