Otter Valley Dairy

RDPE helps Otter Valley Dairy to show it’s the cream of the
crop

Devon luxury Ice Cream, Sorbet and Frozen Yoghurt producer,
Otter Valley Dairy, is finding it’s the cream of the crop after
scooping another top award.

Following its success in winning Gold, Silver and Bronze
accolades at this year’s Devon County Show, the family-run business
which has only been trading since May, has also been awarded Gold,
Silver and Bronze awards at the prestigious Taste of the West Food
Awards 2010.

The awards are the latest success for the Bond family – who have
been farming for four generations in Monkton near Honiton – after a
grant from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE)
helped them to diversify into a luxury farmhouse Ice Cream, Sorbet
and Frozen Yoghurt business.

The business is now attracting customers from far and wide as
word spreads about its mouth-watering range including Rhubarb &
Ginger, Cream Tea, Toffee Fudge and Rum & Raisin Ice Cream,
Lemon & Lime and Summer Fruit Frozen Yoghurt and Mango &
Passion Fruit and Elderflower Sorbet. The utterly indulgent
products use  only the milk and cream from their own Pedigree
dairy herd, coupled with the highest of quality of ingredients.

The journey – from an initial idea through to a thriving
business – included a huge amount of research, including a trip to
Italy to learn from the world leaders in the ice cream field, as
well as learning from a professional Ice Cream artisan chef. It
also involved many dedicated hours of work by the Bond family, who
have three generations working together to create and deliver their
utterly indulgent range on their dairy farm.

Once the Bond family decided the new business was something they
wanted to embark upon, they started to develop a business case and
approached Business Link who introduced them to RDPE Project
Development Officer for Devon Sarah Woollacott.

Rebecca Bond, daughter of Antony & Gill Bond explained:“In
starting our new venture alongside our current dairy the support
and guidance from both Business Link and RDPE was invaluable in
identifying what grant funding was available for us to apply for,
to help kick start our new venture.”

“The support and guidance from the RDPE team throughout each
stage of the process was great. They made what can be a very
complicated system a lot easier and manageable. Sarah Woollacott
came to meet us, to hear about our ideas and to talk us through the
application and the process. She explained how everything
worked.”

A grant for partial funding towards the project was awarded,
which included help towards the area of production as well as the
summerhouse.

Following grant approval the family bought three machines to
start production – a batch freezer, a pasteuriser and potting
machine.  They then set about the work to transform an area at
their home, Aplins Farm, where they would make their products, as
well as creating the area where the public can buy ice cream
directly from their summerhouse which overlooks the fabulous views
over the Otter Valley.

The ‘all-family’ approach continued as family members and
friends tested and re-tested the products adjusting recipes until
they were happy with the final product.

Within months, the business was successful but was struggling to
keep up with demands and it was clear that they needed greater
capacity than that provided by the batch freezer and pasteurizer
originally purchased.

Within a year from the first application, the family applied for
and were granted a second RDPE grant for the additional cost to
upgrade their machines to allow them to meet the demands for their
products, whilst still using machines that would allow them to
create an artisan ice cream.

“The popularity of our products has been over-whelming,
particularly the huge positive response we have had for our
summerhouse, which attracts both the local and tourist markets as
an easy accessible stop and welcome stop on their journeys to and
from the South West along the busy A30. The summerhouse allows them
to take a break, whilst enjoying our ice cream and the beautiful
views across the valley,” Rebecca said.

From its base at Aplins Farm, set in the beautiful Otter Valley
& Blackdown Hills, the business sells directly to customers who
stop at their summerhouse for cornets or take home tubs as well as
providing to other outlets, such as restaurants and farm shops. The
business has also attended many agricultural shows, events
festivals and its first wedding.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed attending the local events in the
surrounding area, and have been overwhelmed by emails received in
the days following from individuals who have enjoyed our products”
Rebecca said.

“We are passionate about what we do, and providing a high
quality local product was key for us. Using only the milk and cream
from our own dairy herd means we have control of the whole process,
with 100% traceability, we can create our ice creams from cow to
cone in one day.

We are extremely grateful for the invaluable help and support
the RDPE has given to kick start our new venture.”

Find out more about award winning Otter Valley Dairy by visiting
their website www.ottervalleydairy.co.uk and
see their information
leaflet
.