Time Out (Melbourne) - - Made in Melbourne -

“Our milk comes from one fam­i­ly­owned farm”

Meet the dairy op­er­a­tor bot­tling milk in Fitzroy’s back­streets

THINGS START EARLY at St David Dairy, a mi­cro-dairy on Fitzroy’s St David Street. The ear­li­est ris­ers are the de­liv­ery driv­ers charged with send­ing milk to cafés and re­tail­ers around Mel­bourne from 3.30am un­til 7.30am. By the time these cafés pour the first flat whites, thou­sands more litres of raw milk have ar­rived that will need pro­cess­ing for to­mor­row’s cof­fees.

Fourth-gen­er­a­tion dairy worker Ben Evans founded St David Dairy in 2013. Ev­ery day at 7am, raw milk ar­rives at the Fitzroy ware­house from Drouin, Gipp­s­land, about 100 kilo­me­tres away. Around 8am, it is pumped into 1,000-litre stain­less steel tanks and ho­mogenised to pre­vent the cream and milk sep­a­rat­ing when bot­tled. By 10am, the milk will have been pas­teurised to kill harm­ful bac­te­ria and pumped through to the bot­tling area, where it’s bot­tled and chilled ready for the next round of de­liv­er­ies in the af­ter­noon. “Five days a week we bot­tle about 9,000 litres of milk a day, which is a tiny amount com­pared to the large com­mer­cial dairies,” Evans says. “But one of our main points of dif­fer­ence is that our milk comes from a sin­gle source, a fam­ily-run farm owned by Glenn and Rose Ather­ton. This helps us to be more trans­par­ent about every­thing from way the cows are raised to how we process the milk.” A de­cent chunk of St David’s full cream milk goes to cafés and restau­rants within ten kilo­me­tres of the dairy. “What you get from bot­tles is pretty close to what comes out of the cows, and a big fo­cus for us is the per­for­mance of our milk with cof­fee. We’ve got a cof­fee ma­chine at the farm in Gipp­s­land and [in the fac­tory] so we can test the milk through­out the day as it goes through the [pro­duc­tion] line.”

St David’s lo­ca­tion is a nod to Fitzroy’s his­tory – in the 1920s, there were more than 20 dairies in the area. Evans ad­mits open­ing a dairy fac­tory in Fitzroy was a “ro­man­tic” idea that has its own chal­lenges, like hav­ing to build cus­tom milk tankers big enough to carry thou­sands of litres of raw milk but small enough to fit through the nar­row back­streets. Ul­ti­mately though, it’s what’s helped them to suc­ceed. “I was notic­ing how lo­cal busi­nesses were be­ing drawn to­wards lo­cal prod­ucts and hav­ing di­rect re­la­tion­ships with the pro­duc­ers. Con­sumers wanted to know where and how things are made, and we do every­thing in house here. We’re like a mi­cro­brew­ery for milk.” De­lima Shanti àfind your lo­cal stock­ist at st­david.com.au.

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