A FARMING family's diversification into selling raw milk has earned a 2016 National Trust Fine Farm Produce award.

Richard Park, a third generation farmer from Low Sizergh Farm near Kendal, picked up the accolade at BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

The awards celebrate the very best produce from the National Trust’s 1,500 tenant farmers and estates across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Products not only have to excel in taste, but entrants also have to pass environmental standards and guarantee the quality and origin of ingredients and high standards of production.

Mr Park, who looks after the 341 acre farm, its 170 cows, 700 hens and 200 sheep, said the award recognised everything that was 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," he said.

"Raw milk is milk that is straight from the cow – it has not been pasteurised or homogenised. You can detect subtle changes in its flavour depending on the time of year and the cow’s diet. 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."

The farm’s Holstein and Swedish Red dairy cows produce 1.4 million litres of milk a year of which 20,000 litres is turned into cheese and 5,000 litres into ice cream.

The vending machine, which was installed in March, is just yards from the milking parlour with sales exceeding expectations by averaging 60 to 70 litres a day.

"It’s quickly proved to be a popular and good investment," said Mr Park. "We get £1.30p per litre compared to £0.23p 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.

Diversification is a family tradition. Mr Park's grandfather turned some of the milk into butter and sold it at Kendal market in the 1930s. His parents opened livery facilities and pick your own strawberries and, during the 1990s, opened a farm shop, tea room, farm trail and orchards.

"In 2002 Growing Well, a mental health charity, started operating from the farm," said Mr Park. "Diversification has been a way of life for us for at least three generations allowing the farm to prosper."