From farm to plate, it's all good
I was born near London but my family originally came from Pembrokeshire. We were desperate to escape the London rat-race, so three generations of us came back: my grandmother, mother, me and my wife.
Caws Cenarth Cheese
I was in the building trade, but I had the typical downshifting dream of having a bit of land and being self-sufficient. We really threw ourselves into it as a family. We grew our own vegetables, and raised pigs, lambs and poultry for the table. Mum baked all the bread – she even made her own soap. In the early days, there were two things I really craved: proper bacon, and proper crackling. So we got a couple of pigs, and it all grew from there.
We started giving a bit away to friends and neighbours, and the taste of it blew people away. Now we have Saddleback, Berkshire and Tamworth pigs, which we cross with wild boar to get a bit more gaminess into them. We feed them barley from local farms, which is soaked in organic whey that I collect from [multi-award-winning cheese maker] Caws Cenarth.
I also get malted barley from a local brewery and beer slops from pubs. A friend of mine is a cider-maker, and he gives us his apple-pressings. In return, I’ve planted 70 of his apple trees on our land. So the by-products of cider-making go to feed the pigs, and when the cider’s done I use it to make cider-cured hams and cider flavoured sausages.
It’s that perfectly circular way of doing things that makes everything extra-tasty. All this good stuff that usually goes to waste, we put it into the pigs because it makes the meat taste better.
Made on the farm
Adam Vincent, Trehale Farm, Pembrokeshire
We farm organically, we don’t even use any machinery – it’s all done by hand. We do almost everything right here on the farm.
We make all our own dry-cure bacon and sausages. We don’t use any rusk, and only natural casings, and I blend my own spices to make them exactly the way I want them to be. We sell direct from the farm, at farmers’ markets, and to local hotels and restaurants. Until recently, everything was sold within 10 miles (16 km) of the farm, and we still only sell within Pembrokeshire.
Some local producers have big ambitions, but I want to stay true to our art. We are expanding in a modest way, though. We’ve got a camp site, with a couple of yurts and a tepee. We felled some mature trees over the winter, had them planked, and we’re building a farm shop out of them. All the timber is cut by hand, we don’t use chainsaws. We even make our own charcoal to cook our sausages on. We’re as green as it gets!
This article is featured in Wales View 2014, download a pdf version or request a free postal copy.