Melton Borough Council

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Melton Borough Council helps new business, The Dairy Barn Café to get off the ground

Published Friday, 22nd June 2018 Photograph of  Chief Executive of Melton Borough Council Edd de Coverly and Deputy Leader of the Council Leigh Higgins with the Darlingtons.

Launched by dairy farmers Peter and Vanessa Darlington, The Dairy Barn Café is testament to how a small business can diversify and expand in the current financial climate.

Deputy Leader of the Council and Councillor for Somerby Ward, Leigh Higgins visited the new venture: “The Darlingtons have been working closely with the council for the last three years in getting the Dairy Barn Café and Ferneley’s Ice Cream up and running. It’s fantastic to see what a positive impact we have been able to have in developing their business and what a great asset it’s going to be for the borough. We will continue to work with the family over the coming years and I look forward to seeing how their business develops and grows and enhances our already excellent tourist offering.  Melton Borough Council prides itself on delivering excellent customer service and supporting our community in their ventures and we encourage entrepreneurs to enlist our help in developing their business ideas into fruition. Job creation is essential to building thriving communities and not only have the Darlington’s utilised local construction companies but they have gone on to create twenty seven new jobs in the borough which is marvellous.”

The Darlington Family moved to Brickfield Farm in Leesthorpe near Melton Mowbray in the 1930s with just three cows and not a great deal of farming experience.  Over the next 80 years they expanded to a 100 strong herd of Holstein and Fresian cattle and had been using their milk to supply the stilton cheese industry.

However, falling milk prices led the Darlingtons to look into diversification in order to add value to their product and thanks to a friend experimenting with their milk to make ice cream, an idea was sown and Ferneley’s ice cream was created.

The Darlingtons approached  Melton Borough Council  in February 2015 to discuss their fledgling business idea and began to work closely with the Economic Development team and Environmental Health in order to develop their business offering.

The family attended a workshop at the Parkside Council Offices during Innovation and Enterprise week and then went on to develop their business model. Once this was in place they continued to work closely with the Council and applied to the East Leicestershire LEADER programme which is a European funding programme designed to support rural development by providing grants to small businesses and communities. It is funded through “The European Agricultural fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas”.

The Darlingtons were approved for LEADER funding, which paid for their ice cream equipment, and they then worked with the Environmental Health team to make sure that their new business complied with all regulations.

The Dairy Barn Café uses as many local products as possible and staff produce a range of home made cakes, light lunches and snacks  as well as their homemade ice cream. You can watch the ice cream being made from their viewing gallery before heading out to enjoy their other facilities. They have a large sports field, a toddlers’ play area, sand pit, climbing frame, an indoor function room and outdoor patio seating. The family also expect to expand upon their facilities over the coming year to increase their recreational offering and strengthening their place in the borough as a food destination not to be missed.

Vanessa Darlingtons said: “Melton Borough Council has supported our project right from day one. Environmental Health advised us from the very early stages of the project which was invaluable to us. Several Councillors have actively supported our project both at Borough and Parish level and continue to offer help when needed.”

Melton Borough Council Chief Executive Edd de Covely said  after a visit to the farm: “ It’s been great having a tour of the Dairy Barn Café and seeing what a fantastic business the Darlingtons have created whilst utilising the council’s expertise. They have not only developed a truly wonderful product in their artisan ice cream but they offer a range of activities for families too making their business another great attraction in the borough and strengthening our reputation as the Rural Capital of Food.”

Councillor Leigh Higgins adds: “If you have a business idea or want to expand here in Melton, then the Council wants to hear from you. We'll be with you every step of the way to bring prosperity to our communities.”



For more information please contact:

Name:  Hazel Paterson – Communications Officer

Melton Borough Council

Telephone: 01664 504294



Additional Information :

Their opening times are Tuesday to Saturday 9:30am-5:00pm, Sunday 10:00am- 5:00pm.