In the heart of Aberdeenshire, Forest Farm is Scotland's oldest organic certified dairy and one of the region's innovators – home to an award-winning gelateria, farm shop and Scotland's first milk vending machine.
The thriving enterprise has embraced a comprehensive range of sustainable practices. It exemplifies how businesses can successfully combine environmental responsibility with economic growth.
Forest Farm invested in a carbon management audit with support from Opportunity North East. It exceeded the recommended actions, adopting solar energy solutions that now cover a significant portion of its production needs and adapting its production schedules to align with solar energy generation.
Operational processes were reviewed and enhanced across both production and hospitality sites. They discarded inefficient equipment, such as an energy-consuming tiered open fridge, and upgraded to more efficient alternatives. The acquisition of a gelato pasteuriser operating three times faster and more efficiently was a further commitment to streamlined and sustainable practices.
An innovation fund award from ONE catalysed the establishment of a fully circular packaging system. The farm introduced reusable packaging for coffee cups, milkshakes, gelato tubs, and spoons. This transformation garnered widespread customer support, with patrons expressing enthusiasm for contributing to a greener world through their purchasing choices. The initiative created a ripple effect among its customers, inspiring them to adopt reusable practices like bringing their cups and shopping bags. This and the fact that you can see the organic dairy cows when you visit, and gain confidence in how your purchase is manufactured, is popular with customers – the car park at Forest Farm is seldom empty.
And drawing on the ONE Graduates into Business programme, they employed a graduate to focus on sustainability. They helped the business to source eco-friendly packaging materials, spearhead efficiency enhancements, and now to focus on sustainability communications and marketing.
Angus Willis, director at Forest Farm, said: “As an organic farm our key focus is on sustainability and environmental protection. The support from ONE has really helped us to apply the same core values from the farm to our production and retail business, as well as accelerate our planned transition to a circular system for reusable packaging.
“The switch from single use to reusable has been supported with enthusiasm by our community and the return rate on packaging is fantastic. In the first six months of operation, the circular reusable packaging scheme saved over 26,000 single use coffee cups and lids and over 45,000 single use gelato tubs & spoons.”
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