Local lamb brand
A SHEEP farmer and artist who has built up his own lamb brand insists that Suffolk’s local supply chains are “exceptionally intact”, in spite of supermarket pressures.
Jason Gathorne Hardy, of White House Farm, near Saxmundham, says the family farm’s home brand, Alde Valley Lamb, has flourished since he started working on it two years ago.
“Partly through my drawing and also through food events I have got to know more of the livestock producers in the Alde Valley and East Suffolk area,” he says.
“I think Suffolk is remarkable for the integrity of its food supply chains - in the sense that they are full of very dedicated, creative and efficient individuals and that the supply chains are also exceptionally intact.”
By contrast, he argues, out of town superstores’ model of food production, distribution and retailing could be “very vulnerable” to fuel prices and can be economically inefficient in terms of the creation and distribution of jobs and wealth.
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The farm’s brand is for lambs bred and raised at exclusively at White House Farm and Great Glemham Farms in Great Glemham, grazing on its historic water meadows.
“I started this because the economic returns on a small flock were very marginal, if in profit at all, and we wanted to keep sheep on some of the farms,” he explains.
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He felt creating an identity and supplying direct to the market was the way forward for the business.
The farm supplies the Farm Cafe at Marlesford, Cafe 1885 at Snape Maltings, The Bell Inn at Walberswick and The Lemon Tree Bistro at Framlingham with lamb.
“This has involved researching and setting up a local supply chain - effectively from field to fork. I have been amazed at the range and dedication of local independent businesses working in particular in the meat sector,” he says.
“In hard economic times, I think this is worth celebrating - because creative, job-rich independent food supply chains handling locally grown foods and delivering them to local shops, markets, pubs, cafes, restaurants, hotels and homes seem to offer an olive branch of opportunity.”
White House Farm is part of the Great Glemham Farms partnership.
It took a decision to work with only one butcher in Suffolk - Salters Family Butchers in Aldeburgh.
The farm is part of a Higher Level Stewardship scheme and is committed to high conservation standards. The emphasis is on producing high quality meat from animals raised to Farm Assured standards.