As a farmer and a food lover, I’m a firm believer that when it comes to meat, in particular, eat local where you can, but always eat British. We are a nation built on the solid and rich heritage of great British food and farming. There is very little reason to go further than our shores to eat the very best and in doing so, support our wonderful farmers. If this means eating a little less meat but it being of better quality, then so be it, but that’s another blog post!
Living in the glorious West Country we are lucky enough to have quality, local food on our doorstep. This is particularly true when it comes to our Christmas turkeys that we source from less than 10 miles away. Stuart Perkins and his family farm at Heywood Farm, near Radstock in Somerset, produce the most delicious free range chicken all year round which we are proud to sell. However, in December, Stuart’s turkeys take centre stage.
We are lucky enough to have worked with Stuart for many years. Simply, we believe his birds are the very best. By far the most popular in our farm shop are his Bronze Turkeys which are truly free-range birds left to roam the grass pastures around his Somerset farm all day long, feeding on a natural diet foraging through the pastures and surrounding hedgerows and supplemented by quality, locally milled cereals. No nasty commercial tricks such as additives, growth promoters or hormones here.
Stuart farms a particular variety of the Bronze breed which are perfectly suited to this extensive system, where the birds grow naturally and slowly (to about 6 months of age) putting on good quality fat and well-developed muscle. This adds a wonderfully rich flavour and the fat helps baste the meat when cooked. At slaughter weight, the birds are dispatched, dry plucked and left to mature on Stuart’s farm in his onsite facility which means stress is kept to an absolute minimum during transport as they never leave the farm! This sets it far apart from certain cheaper, commercial strains that are pushed hard to grow fast and are slaughtered when they are as little as half the age in some cases, after being loaded into small crates on big trucks and transported halfway across the country.
The commitment to a genuine free-range system, a natural diet and also his own on-site abattoir means Stuart’s birds are of a fantastic quality. It’s a special time of year when your family and friends deserve the very best and we can honestly say that’s exactly what you get. A slower growing bird gives a delicious flavour to the meat and the extra fat means, when cooked properly your turkey will not be dry. That’s not even going into all the good you’ll be doing by backing a local, sustainable farmer that puts welfare at the top of the list!