Tuesday 23 January 2024

Manor Farm shop this SATURDAY 27th JANUARY 10am-12pm

 Farm shop this SATURDAY 27th JANUARY 10am-12pm, Manor Farm Chearsley. 

Please just come down the farm drive.

I have delicious beef and lamb in the freezer and this season’s freshly pressed apple juice. The meat is packed with vitamins and other healthy nutrients and extremely freshly frozen. 

Until I find a new abattoir, I am unable to get fresh meat – see about this below - so there are no beef steaks but all cuts of lamb and plenty of diced beef and mince for nourishing stews and pies. 

I’m off to make a spaghetti bolognese now!

On the farm… 

A spell of blue skies and frosty weather made a welcome change to the endless grey and rain. December was a very wet month! The cold snap will have done some good - killing off pathogens and invasive pests from warmer climes. Some of our most lovely wildflowers like primroses, cowslips, bluebells and foxgloves flower better after a cold period which breaks their seed dormancy or promotes flowering. Perhaps we can look forward to a glorious flower-filled spring.

I was delighted to see lapwings both in the lower and upper fields on either side of the village and a good number of snipe along the river meadows. These wetland birds have become quite rare and it would be wonderful to see their numbers increase with our fertile soils enhanced by our livestock, chemical-free farming and wetland habitat creation. 

Abattoir closure!

While it might be something most people don’t want to think about, a good local abattoir is essential to being able to sell good value and high quality, local meat directly. 

In 1970, there were well over 1000 abattoirs across the country with one as local as Long Crendon but now there are only 150 in England. This means longer journeys to and from the abattoir which is not good for livestock and, of course, adds to costs for small scale producers.

I was using a good, small abattoir in Long Compton (already over an hour away) but it is due to close at the end of January due to ageing staff and difficulty finding new staff exacerbated by a lack of foreign workers; greatly rising energy costs and increased bureaucracy have meant it is unable to continue. 

A well-priced, high quality food production system relies on competition and smaller scale producers having access to the market but all we are seeing is larger and larger supermarkets and food wholesalers controlling the market. They drive down farming standards and prices, pushing farmers to maximise production and minimise everything else with an inevitable impact on food quality and farm wildlife. 

However, this new challenge makes it increasingly difficult for me to provide my meat to local people at an affordable price. The government must invest in essential infrastructure such as well-run abattoirs to ensure food quality and security and good animal welfare. Short supply chains, cutting out the middleman means better quality food and a better price for the consumer with money spent locally benefiting the local economy.