Tell me about the Large Black, what meat does it give? How do you ensure the rare breeds survival?
They give beautifully marbled meat, that is enhanced by their ability to move around freely, roaming woodland and foraging, so they are able to build up muscle slowly, giving a real depth of flavour. We ensure the survival of the breed by eating them – which may seem counter-intuitive, but with coloured pigs falling out of fashion, we could have lost their genetics altogether, and all the qualities that go with them. By creating a demand for their meat, we are ensuring their survival.
What are the greatest challenges you faced when trying to run a sustainable farm?
Sustainable farming is really important to us but the greatest challenge on an outdoor farm is that it requires more labour input than factory farming. The other challenge is to manage the land. Pigs are busy creatures and can turn over land quickly, which can be beneficial, but can also make a mess. We’ve seen a huge change in how people view farming. The consumer is becoming more aware of their impact on food production.
What do you see as the future of sustainable and ethical farming?
In the future I hope to see a pig revolution in much the same way we had a free range chicken egg revolution. Only three per cent of pigs are raised outdoors their whole life. I would like to see the end of factory-style pork production where pigs are kept indoors, in cramped, smelly conditions with little mental stimulation, packed full of antibiotics to compensate, with the only consideration being the bottom line. Ultimately, I would like to see us, as a nation of consumers, favour high-welfare production methods, and start a farming revolution.