A SOUTH Cumbria farm's raw milk has been named best in the country by picking up a prestigious award.

Low Sizergh Farm, near Levens, won the National Trust's Fine Farm Produce Award during BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire last week.

The prize was for the farm's raw milk, which comes straight from the cow and is not pasteruised or homogenised. It is is available at the farm from a vending machine, just metres away from the milk palour.

The annual awards, in their 11th year, celebrate the very best produce from the National Trust's 1,500 tenant farmers and estates and judges at the show gave the milk a thumbs up in the obligatory taste test.

Richard Park, who looks after the 341 acre farm, its 170 cows, 700 hens and 200 sheep, said: "This award recognises all the things that are important to the family.

"That includes celebrating wonderful local produce, connecting people to the place where their food comes from and taking good care of the land and its livestock."

The milk comes from a herd of Holstein and Swedish Red dairy cows.

The herd produces 1.4 million litres of milk every year, 20,000 litres of which is turned into cheese and 5,000 litres of which is turned into ice cream.

The raw venture came about as Low Sizergh Farm looked to diversify and establish a unique selling point amid a crises in the UK dairy industry.

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Raw milk sales since the vending machine was installed at the farm in March have exceeded initial targets – averaging between 60 and 70 litres a day.

Customers enjoy using the raw milk vending machine at Low Sizergh Farm. Mr Park, who is a third generation farmer, said: "It's quickly proved to be a popular and a good investment.

"Its taste and nutritional value make it popular with those on certain diets, fitness enthusiasts and people who remember the taste of green top milk.

"You can detect subtle changes in its flavour depending on the time of year and the cow's diet.

"We get £1.30 per litre compared to 23p for the milk which we sell to a co-operative.

"Plus there's another benefit. I get first hand feed-back from customers at the farm – something which doesn't happen with commercial collections."

Mr Park also joined Great British Bake Off finalist Holly Bell on stage at Countryfile Live to talk about the raw milk she was using in her demonstration.

All entrants in the competition had to pass a checklist of environmental standards to guarantee the quality and origin of ingredients.