By Ruth Hogg,
Dairy Technologist, CAFRE
The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Loughry campus, supports small and medium sized businesses innovate through the Invest NI Innovation Voucher programme.
Through a partnership approach, companies access support, specialist knowledge and practical skills required to help promote innovation, develop new products and systems to assist their business to grow.
The campus has a fantastic range of equipment and facilities to advance innovation projects to help businesses compete more efficiently.
Stephen and Amanda Gibson, from Hollowbridge Farm, successfully applied to the Invest NI Innovation Voucher programme, which awarded the couple a voucher worth £5,000 to develop their new ice cream business venture.
Hollowbridge Farm has been farming in the townland of Taughblane, Hillsborough, since 1805 and has been owned by the family for six generations.
Stephen Gibson and his father Nevin farm 100 Holstein-Friesian milking cows.
In 2018 Stephen and his wife Amanda began a new ice cream business using the milk produced from their already successful thriving dairy herd.
The couple had no previous experience or knowledge of ice cream manufacture and its processing technology but they shared an ambition to produce their own ice cream products using their high quality milk from Hollowbridge Farm.
They purchased a batch pasteuriser machine and began to experiment using their own ideas.
They contacted CAFRE Dairy Technologists to help with their journey, attending a CAFRE ‘Introduction to Ice Cream Making’ workshop.
With the financial assistance provided by the Invest NI Innovation Voucher, CAFRE Dairy Technologists helped develop the ice cream product through the key stages.
Stephen and Amanda desired to source flavours, inclusions and ripples from local suppliers in Northern Ireland which would complement their product.
Since completing their development work Hollowbridge Farm is supplying ice cream locally, including a ‘drive through’ service during lockdown which proved to be highly popular.
n To find out more about the technical and financial help available, please visit the CAFRE and Invest NI Innovation Voucher websites.