Outstanding in his field
Chesham beef farmer nominated for top award
CAN this Chesham farmer bring home the bacon?
Bacon? No, but his beef could be on to a winner.
Ben Harman has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2018 Beef Farmer of the Year award.
A fourth-generation cattle farmer, whose grandfather introduced the Charolais breed to the UK, Mr Harman was destined to be in the beef industry.
Currently shortlisted as a finalist for the 2018 British Farmer of the Year award by Farmers Weekly, he is hoping to finish a cut about the rest.
The Farmers Weekly awards celebrate the agricultural success stories across the UK, with beef being one of the 19 categories in total. Noting sustainability, the desirability of produce, and a developed understanding of the market, the award recognises those they believe will withstand Brexit, and are assets to the industry.
It all began with Mr Harman’s great-grandfather, who bought the Chesham-based Grove Farm. Passed down through the generations, each Harman made their own adjustments. Once married, Ben’s father stepped down so the newlyweds could begin their reign.
Having both a passion for cooking and for his cattle, Mr Harman chose to combine the two.
Explaining his decisions to be “all about his belly”, he attempted a cross- breed between charolaise and wagyu. A French and a Japanese breed of cattle, and a combination uncommon to the beef industry. Chagyu, in his eyes, is a “system rather than just a breed, it’s one of those marginal gain things”.
It is not just his successful cross-breeding that caught the attention of Farmers Weekly.
A study tour with Meat & Livestock Australia revealed to Harman the importance of the lives animals lead to meat quality. This was then made a priority on Grove Farm. The entire process, from gestation to slaughter has been well considered, to the point where the final moments of his cattle’s lives are on a farm, and in pairs. He strives for the “best possible life, and the best possible death”.
Avoiding mentioning his own efforts, Harman puts down the successes noted by Farmers Weekly to the others involved in the chain.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere at all if I didn’t have the support of them,” he said.
Whilst retired, his father continues to contribute to the farm when the latest farming Harman is carrying out his duties as vice-chairman of the British Charolais society.
He puts his success down to those who take on his produce; Harman was keen to mention The Full Moon at Hawridge, and the chef who tackles his cattle.
If he gains this title of best beef farmer, Harman is hoping to spread a lesson his grandfather taught him: “you never learn anything off your own dung heap.”
Essentially, farmers need to travel and talk, both for education within the industry, and to support their mental health. Plus, more farmers talking may prompt the enthusiastic and willing to join the herd.
For those wanting to try Mr Harman’s Chagyu, because “it is special, it is different, it is better than people will find just about anywhere else”, it is available September 9-10, at The Full Moon in Hawridge.
The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at Grosvenor House in London on October 4.
Farmer Ben Harman with his herd of cattle