Country Smallholding - - Feature Last Journey -

Jane Pren­tice and her fam­ily cham­pion the farm­ing of deer in Scot­land, and are con­tribut­ing to the build­ing of a more se­cure and sus­tain­able farm­ing in­dus­try there – they are ex­pressly keen to work with other lo­cal farm­ers and sup­pli­ers to build upon the farmed veni­son in­dus­try in Scot­land. Their abat­toir has only re­cently been built (2015) as a de­vel­op­ment of their de­ci­sion to start farm­ing deer a few years ear­lier. The cut­ting room was put in place last year. They slaugh­ter deer, and sheep, one day a week. As a fairly new busi­ness, Jane says that the big­gest chal­lenge for the abat­toir is gen­er­at­ing suf­fi­cient rev­enue to cover the very high costs as­so­ci­ated with set­ting it up as well as the con­tin­u­ing costs of labour and FSA in­spec­tions. RICHARD GLAVES, SCAR­BOR­OUGH, NORTH YORK­SHIRE The Glaves fam­ily bought the ‘busi­ness’ – a shop and slaugh­ter­house – back in 1972, and it evolved into a more for­mal fam­ily part­ner­ship in the 1980s in­cor­po­rat­ing the shop, abat­toir and farm. The busi­ness soon be­came na­tion­ally known and Richard’s fa­ther, Brian, was cho­sen as the Royal Smith­field Club’s pres­i­dent in 2008.

The abat­toir takes pigs, sheep, goats and cat­tle on two days each week. Richard is, right­fully, proud of the busi­ness and of his team – ‘our staff stay a long time’. He runs an ap­pren­tice­ship scheme every year, (in­vest­ing in, en­cour­ag­ing and train­ing the next gen­er­a­tion) and, as a busi­ness, reg­u­larly par­tic­i­pates in lo­cal events - run­ning com­pe­ti­tions, com­pil­ing videos, work­ing with Bris­tol Uni­ver­sity, and at­tend­ing agri­cul­tural shows. “I am pas­sion­ate about it - you have to be. If you don’t care, then there’s no point do­ing it”. Per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, Richard iden­ti­fies the big­gest pres­sure upon the abat­toir as be­ing the sheer vol­ume of pa­per­work and the bu­reau­cracy.

John Coles built his abat­toir 35 years ago. He had been a dairy farmer, and recog­nised that the quota sys­tem was not go­ing to work for him, so he shifted his fo­cus to the pro­duc­tion of meat – cham­pi­oning a busi­ness which could guar­an­tee the ori­gin of the meat it sold. Thirty-five years on and they run an off­site farm shop and a thriv­ing café - it’s lit­er­ally ‘from field to fork’ en­ter­prise. (In 2015 he won the ‘John Nea­son Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion Award’ at the Devon County show.) Some years ago, the abat­toir was se­lected by Chan­nel 4 as an ex­em­plar of good prac­tice for the ‘Kill It, Cook It, Eat It’ TV pro­gramme. De­spite this na­tional ex­po­sure, John speaks of be­ing very much part of the lo­cal com­mu­nity – he read­ily of­fers tours, has a train­ing room on site, and gives talks to lo­cal small­hold­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions. The main pres­sure for the abat­toir comes, he says, from the FSA (bu­reau­cracy – again) and the per­cep­tion that (at a na­tional level) smaller out­fits are re­ally not wanted and are be­ing qui­etly (but de­lib­er­ately) squeezed out of the mar­ket. JOHN COLES, OT­TERY ST MARY, DEVON

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