Rural – Jersey Country Life Magazine

LETTER FROM SARK – THE SARK COMMUNITY DAIRY

By our Sark correspondent, Richard Axton

Development, Sark-style: a level crossing for cows

A lot has happened over the past 12 months: two major lockdowns, restrictions on travel and disruptions of cargoes, mechanical breakdowns, and two of the wettest winter months on record. In the face of all this our team of local craftsmen have made remarkable progressin the construction of a our new community dairy. The tenant dairy farmers are planning to move from Suffolk in April, bringing over a starter herd of cows and heifers from Guernsey, to calve in June.

After ‘breaching the bank’ into the home field beside La Seigneurie Gardens in August, serious excavation got underway in November to level the site, create crane access and lay foundations for erection of the host building.] By mid-February the roof was complete, so that construction and fitting of the processing half of the building can continue in all weather.

While most of our live fund-raising events had to be postponed or cancelled,  we have had generous support from residents and businesses and from local media. Our website launched last August with an animation video and details of the Trust’s plans and the people involved:   www.sarkdairytrust.com   

Six months on we have raised £250,000- about half what we need.  On 4 March we launched a second crowdfunding platform linked to major social media and offering donor rewards in the form of lapel pins, artist’s prints and personal plaques on the ‘Legendairy’ wall of the building. 

www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sark-dairy

There are two features of the community dairy that we hope will attract sponsorship. A public gallery above the parlour will encourage visitors to watch the milking and learn about dairy processing. Cost: £10,000. The other intriguing feature is the “cows’ crossing”.     Because most of the pasture lies to the south of Rue de la Moinerie, new breaks are being made in the field banks, with ‘level crossing’ gates to allow the cows to come and go twice a day. A quiet pause to watch the herd wind their way home for milking will become a feature of the visitor timetable.  This picturesque scene has been imagined by Sark-born artist Martin Remphry. Sponsorship (£25,000) of the crossing carries with it the right to name this new, iconic feature of Sark’s landscape. The chosen name will be on Sark’s map for ever and will pass into Island folklore.

The Trustees would like to thank all who have contributed so far, and hope to extend a warm welcome at the dairy to our Jersey neighbours before the summer is over. If you are able to help in any way, please get in touch with me.    Richard Axton   raxton@guernsey.net   01481 832570

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