Arriving in Wales my first port of call was Kate Humble’s rural skills centre Humble by Nature set in the beautiful Monmouthshire hills where I was given a tour of the farm and the new Aquaponics centre by Rachael.
Posing with Tim the farmer at Humble by Nature and Tommo his Hereford bull.
Winnie, a Middle White Sow looking well laden down who was due to farrow that weekend.
Some of the lovely White Faced Woodland ewes grazing outside the new Aquaponics centre moments before being chased out of the paddock by a rather (if you’ll excuse the pun) rambunctious tup.
Inside the aquaponics centre, where they have Tilapia fish and a mixture of fresh veg and herbs growing.
Chilli’s growing in the aquaponics centre
View over the rolling countryside.
One of goats in the paddock behind the sheep.
Next stop – Native Breeds where I met Ruth (pictured below) and Graham who run a thriving meat processing business curing meat from heritage traditional breeds into a variety of salami’s and charcuterie mostly supplying to restaurants.
Some rather tasty Salt Beef..
Inside their maturation room where their were all sorts of cured meats, salami and charcuterie.
After a quick tour of the deer park where Native Breeds is situated I headed down the road to met James McCrindle who runs McCrindles Cider , an small batch Artisan Cider and Perry maker.
James mixed Pear and Apple orchard had some enormous trees some of which were well over 100 years old and still going strong by the looks of the crop.
James’s Cider Press
To make his sparkling Perry James uses a similar process to sparkling wine which is named Loiterpin.
James is also experimenting with producing small batches of Ice Cider – a product that as far as I know doesn’t exist in the UK as it is incredibly hard to make and is only really available commercially from Canada due to their cold winters.
Calling into Usk Farmers Market en-route to Blaen Bran Community Woodland, I met a number of really fantastic local small producers and managed to arrange a visit to Charcuterie maker James at his nearby Trealy Farm to learn more about their business.
Arriving to Blaen Bran Community Woodland I met Kate, professional horseman and smallholder who runs Rowan Working Horses.
Arriving at Trealy Farm I was greeted by their new pup.
Milking time – James and Ruth keep a Jersey house cow.
Ruth keeps a flock of sheep at Trealy farm and also runs another flock up on the hills in Snowdonia. Her Zwartable lambs were particularly striking.
One of James’s Mangalitza pigs.
Ruth showing me her stun gun and telling me about her time working as a Slaughterman in a Welsh Abattoir. She is now a full time Beef and Sheep farmer and also teaches a meat course at Trealy Farm.
Next stop Hereford, where I met Farmer Tom Jones having received a recommendation from one of the chefs at St. John in London. Tom started supplying meat to top restaurants from his family farm whilst at Uni and now splits his time between supplying meat to London chefs, running kitchens himself and farming on the Beef and Sheep livestock farm.
Tom has a herd of Hereford’s and a mixture of traditional and rare breed sheep.
Waking up early I set off on my longest drive yet – from Hereford to Bridlington in East Yorkshire (with a quick stop in Ludlow) with a visit scheduled the next day at Bannisters Farm. Arriving late I made my way to Wold Farm Campsite in Flamborough which had amazing views overlooking the sea.
The next morning I set off to Bannisters Farm on top of the Yorkshire Wolds to learn more about their family run potato food business and farm. Meeting Jo, Zoe, Marie, Hilary and Rob at the family farm it was fascinating hearing about how the farm and potato business has evolved over the years. It was really interesting to hear stories of Rob’s early sideline businesses including interactive Arcade machines (which were featured on Tomorrows World) with varying degrees of success. Ultimately it was his potato business that really took off – with the rise of the microwave in the early Eighties – cooking and freezing baked potatoes became a big market and Rob’s and his wife Hilary determination to carve out a niche against large competitors has meant that they have grown to become one of the leading suppliers of baked potato products in the country with both his daughters Marie and Zoe now involved in the business too.
After our chat we went for a tour of the farm and saw the Potato harvesting team in action..
I was also lucky enough to see the Combine Harvester in action making short work of the final 7 acres of Winter Wheat.
The Bannisters recommended I visit the local micro brewery Woldtop Brewery located on a farm a few miles down the road. Kate kindly gave me a tour of the brewery and explained how they had gone into the beer making business as a farm diversification scheme nearly ten years ago that has grown into a really successful brand which is now exported overseas.
Inside the conventional steel farm barns that used to store grain but is now the brew house
The Barley grown on the farm is turned into Malt by a nearby Maltster in Flamborough and is then returned to the farm for use in the beer making.
The bottling equipment.
Having travelled some 1700 miles and completed 42 days ‘on the road’ I rode Veronica down to Bridlington Harbour that evening and treated myself to fish and chips (washed down with a couple of Woldtop Beers). And after one final sleep in my cosy one man tent – I woke early and headed south riding the 224 miles back to London in one (rather long) day being overtaken by lots of large lorries. And I am looking forward to putting together my indie farm road trip print journal.
Now the small matter of