The Little Milk Company was established in March 2008 and comprises of ten family-run organic dairy farms from Munster and Leinster. The company produce a range of award-winning organic cheddars, brie, and cream cheeses.
Since its establishment, the Little Milk Company have prioritised sustainability using a low input organic dairy system. They developed the first unpasteurised organic cheddar in Ireland, pay a fair price for organic produce, and are committed to creating a sustainable market for organic milk. By operating this way they encourage other farmers to get involved in organic dairying.
As well as practising a sustainable, organic, low input dairying system, all farms participate in environmental schemes such as Origin Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS), and Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS). These schemes and programmes involve measures such as tree planting, hedge laying, wild bird cover, habitat protection, wild meadow planting, and the introduction of clover to pastures.
The Little Milk Company have set sustainability targets across the Origin Green Sustainability Charter’s three pillars of raw materials sourcing, manufacturing processes, and social sustainability:
Raw Material Sourcing
- Currently, plastic wrapping used for cheese is not recyclable. During the lifetime of the plan, a stretch target is to make packaging 100% recyclable and compostable. A re-sealable style packaging will also be introduced.
- Whey is the main waste output in cheese production. Through Origin Green, whey that was formerly a waste product is now being used as organic feed in an organic pig farm: with 90,000 litres of what was once waste whey, now replacing an equivalent 10,000 kg of organic meal.
- The Little Milk Company is also in negotiation with an organic drink producer to develop an organic whey drink.
- The Little Milk Company believes that the development and conservation of the ecosystems on each of its 10 farms is important. Over the lifetime of their Origin Green plan, they will seek to increase the amount of natural flora and fauna on each farm.
- Wildlife audits will be followed by training from certified organic eco specialists, training farmers on the methods to increase and diversify flora and fauna.
- Investing in the local community is an important element of social responsibility. The Little Milk Company plans to mentor a JobBridge intern and a university student on an annual basis giving them experience in the organic food sector.
- The company supports a variety of local community groups in Ireland, including the Croom Development Association.
Located in Tinahely, County Wicklow, brothers Joe and Michael Hayden run a family owned dairy farm. Being part of the Origin Green programme, the farm has been audited to meet the highest standards under the Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme.
As a dairy farm, it has been in Alan Kingston’s family for generations, but a new and unexpected chapter in its history opened when his wife, Valerie, began making yoghurt for a local farmers’ market.