Campbell manages Manna Hill Estate, a small, family run, dry range olive grove in Mount…
The Owens family of Fowlescombe Farm raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW), Certified Grassfed by AGW cattle; Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW sheep; Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW goats; and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pigs on around 500 acres of organic pasture and woodland near Ivybridge in Devon.
First established in 1537, the ancient farm is set in a beautiful valley between Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon coast, where farm manager Rosie Ball and team raise native and rare-breed animals using non-intensive farming methods.
“The animals are the stars of the show here at Fowelscombe Farm and we are proud of our beautiful rare and native breeds,” says Rosie. “We combine modern and traditional farming methods to sustain the environment we work within.”
The pedigree English Longhorn and Beef Shorthorn cattle, Manx Loaghtan sheep and Tamworth pigs are rare and native animals to the UK, growing slowly on natural diets to produce meat of exceptional quality and deep flavour. The farm is also home to a flock of non-native Boer goats, which are excellent at browsing the hedgerows and controlling scrub and weeds.
The cattle and sheep at Fowlescombe Farm are Certified Grassfed by AGW, which guarantees ruminant animals like cattle, sheep and goats are fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range, and managed according to the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW leading welfare and environmental standards.
The English Longhorn is a hardy and adaptable breed renowned for producing great quality beef. With their striking appearance and a long history dating back several hundred years, the breed is well suited to the ancient pastures at Fowlescombe, maturing to over 30 months before finishing. The native Beef Shorthorn cattle are slightly taller in their frame, with high quality fat marbling in the muscles and matures on grass in around 24 months.
The Manx Loaghtan sheep is another striking and ancient breed, whose meat renown for being rich and lean. Originating from the Isle of Man, the Manx Loaghtan sheep is listed as at risk of extinction by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and is ideally suited to the rougher pastures on the farm.
Tamworth pigs are one of the oldest pig breeds and are a priority breed for conservation, with only 300 breeding females registered in the UK. The pigs at Fowlescombe live outdoors all year, foraging in woodland and pasture. They are fed locally grown organic grains and soya-free feed, as well as windfall apples in the autumn. The pork meat is deep red in colour with a rich flavour.
“For most of the year our cattle and sheep graze rotationally across a mixture of old permanent pastures and diverse herbal leys moving regularly according to their nutritional needs and the grass growth rates,” says Rosie. “The manure they leave behind feeds the soil naturally and supports insects, which in turn feed bats and birds, reptiles and other animals. Our flowering herbal leys and rotational grazing practices also provide great diversity of habitat. We are proud to be host to healthy populations of less commonly seen wildlife including hares, hedgehogs and barn owls.”
Over the last four years, the farm has been adopting regenerative farming techniques to supplement organic management practices. “Our aim is to create ever healthier soils, improve the productivity of our land, increase biodiversity and sequester more and more carbon in our soil,” Rosie explains. “We want our land not only to be biodiverse and productive, but continuously improving. We believe in nurturing the delicate balance of ecosystems within the farm, with our ultimate goal of only rain and sunlight coming onto the farm and only food leaving it.” The team at Fowlescombe Farm is also actively taking steps to minimise fossil-fuel use and become self-sufficient in energy, recently installing ground source heating, with plans to install solar panels on barn buildings and other environmentally friendly measures.
Meat from the farm is used by Rare & Pasture, an award-winning charcuterie and smokery based at the farm, to create a range of high-quality products that is sustainable and delicious, including organic smoked sausages, saveloys and frankfurters, shredded meats, and charcuterie products, such as salamis and bresaola.