We, Sue and Ann, do not come from a farming background; we come from a consumer background.
This being said Sue studied an Agricultural Degree at Writtle Agricultural Collage and Ann has taken many courses relating to bee keeping & honey production certificated by the National Bee Association. The reason we did this was our lack of knowledge, or lack of information supplied by retailers/producers, to make an informed decision of what we wanted to buy and ultimately consume, also we feel we have an affinity with the countryside and would like to work with nature.
Sue kept a few chickens in her garden for her own egg usage.
This led to her getting a bit keen and buying more and more chickens, therefore there was an excess of eggs which she sold at the farm house (Boxes) gate. These were received very well locally and some customers asked if we could supply other produce. We had already been looking into diversifying for our own consumption.
Ann was a vegetarian for 12 years, but now, still generally vegetarian (if that’s possible), will only consumes meat from Boxes Farm, Sue has always been a confirmed carnivore for life but found it increasingly difficult to buy meat with provenance and the guarantee of high welfare therefore high quality and less food miles. The only way round this that we could see was doing it ourselves.
Having done extensive research, and taste testing, we bought a herd of Breeding Berkshire sows (all answer to their names) and a Duroc Boar (William). The offspring of which we had found to give the best possible pork flavour that the Berkshire is renowned for but reducing the inevitable fat level (associated with a traditional rare breed) by introducing William. Gone were the days of not knowing whether it had been intensively reared, had had antibiotics routinely administered, Growth hormones fed as standard or GM feeds fed during its life. This was what we wanted. And we found, so did a lot of other people!
Sue loads up the animals and takes them to the abbetoir herself, so when they arrive (normaly 2 at a time) they are relaxed, to the extent that she has to wake them up for unloading. A Friend of ours is a master butcher and he does all the butchering for us at the farm, therefore we know its our animals, no matter which part of them. After this Sue makes all the sausages herself to ensure there is no ‘rubbish’ that goes into them.
At this point we were producing more than our own needs and therefore started doing local Farmers Markets and were received very well; it appeared that we were not the only people thinking along these lines.
Since the early days of having ‘proper’ jobs we had the opportunity to purchase the adjacent farmland to Sue’s Farm House (Boxes) and took it with this inevitably leading to Sue becoming an unwitting farmer and it has been a steep learning curve, but enjoyable experience since.
Ten ish years on and we are now in the position of not only offering the pork, sausages, eggs and honey to our customers but have been able to increase our production to include Free-Range Chickens (Meat), Bronze Turkeys, Ducks, and Geese, all of which we have been doing for a few years now. Also with the help of our professional shooters that we have on the farm for vermin control we are now able to offer Pigeon, Rabbit and Venison when in season. Over the years we have built up a good relationship with other local farm with the same high welfare standards and are therefore able to offer Local, Suffolk Lamb and Hereford Beef, which we have found to be very popular with our customers.
There is so much more we could tell you, it’s not all been fun there has been some heart ache but if you would like to know more of what we are up to or which farmers markets we are at please check our ‘Farm Diary & Future Events’ or subscribe to our mailing list. We also attend many small local community & charity Events as well as the local Foodie Shows and we have taster evenings where our customers come and try our new recipes for sausages or other produce (most recent – Lamb Shank in Garden Mint Sauce) and spend the evening with us and other likeminded customers. These evenings are always over subscribed so early booking is advised.
Please keep in touch, we love to here from you and all others interested in welfare and good local produce.
All suggestions gratefully received.
The Accidental Farmer.