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Tim and Jo have been working at Higher Hacknell Farm since 1985, which they converted to organic status in 1988.
Even as beautiful farms go, it’s got something special, situated in a secluded setting between Dartmoor and Exmoor. The business was built around selling all the produce direct : at farmers markets and through mail order. Last year they won best meat category at the Organic Food Awards and have won producer of the year twice.
Jo says ‘What makes our meat so good is that the animals spend all their lives on the farm. They are born, raised and butchered here. Feed is grown on the farm, and even the bones of the animals are used for their stock in our prepared meals.’
‘We began making home cooked meals using meat from the farm and marketing them towards local people. The cottage pie stands out because everything is done by hand. We’re especially delighted about the success we have had, because prepared food is such a commercialized part of the industry. It’s great that our products are standing out from those in supermarkets. The judges were impressed by the authenticity and quality of the ingredients, and that the taste is enriched by our delicious stock rather than chemical flavour enhancers!
‘In recent years we’ve been selling the products on our website and the range of customers is astonishing! A lot of elderly people buy them, and we also supply to a couple of football teams – one of them premier league. I like the idea of them tucking in to one of our pies after a game! We also supply our meals to a children’s centre and nursery, which is fantastic as it means the children are benefitting from freshly cooked, organic meals each day. We’ve been told by one of the teachers that the children cheer when the food comes in!
All in all it’s very exciting for us to win this award. Prepared meals are a new venture for us, and it’s great to have this success.’
For more information on Tim and Jo Budden and Higher Hacknell Farm, visit www.higherhacknell.co.uk or phone 01769 560909
The reasons for supporting organic are the same today as they were when we converted our farm in 1988, but the circumstances have changed.
In 1988, the contrast between organic and non-organic farming was stark. We wanted to break away from the more industrialized practices and work with nature, not against it. Organic was at the forefront of leading this change. Recently, and testament to the work of the organic lobby, the whole of the farming industry (not just organic) seems to have benefitted from the promotion of greener and more sustainable farming methods. It does seem, however, that today we are at a new danger point with the rise of mega-farms and the problems they cause.