Five generations of family farming at Blacker Hall are the back-bone of the business

The Garthwaite family farming enterprise includes three local farms that supply the majority of the beef and pork for the farm shop butchery. Edward and his wife Cheryl run the Farm Shop and Cafe, while Edward’s father, John, sister, Mary, and her husband Matthew run the farming side of things.

Edward’s mother, Anne, retired from the Farm Shop Bakery in 2012 and now has a less active role, while continuing as a Director of the business, she is a full-time farmer’s wife, mother and Grandmother! The younger generation of the family are certainly inspired by farming… in fact Mary and Matthew’s son, Thomas (below), is firmly following in their footsteps.

Thomas on loader tractor

We also work with other local farmers to ensure a consistent quality supply the balance of locally reared beef and lamb for the Farm Shop and Cafe.

Our herd of cattle is a mixture of well bred Angus, Hereford, Simmental, Belgian Blue and Limousin cattle. We find that crossing our home traditional breeds with a continental bull produces healthy offspring with the desired conformity and level of finish required by the shop.

All the animals have a well balanced, nutritionally calculated diet. During the winter months, when the animals are housed, as pictured top, we use large mechanical feeders to automatically calculate and mix quantities of home grown cereals and forage crops, ensuring a highly nutritious feed. We do not use routine antibiotics, as we believe that this is a drastic preventative measure to take. We tend towards the more traditional approach and provide the animals with the suitable living conditions they require to maintain a clean bill of health.

We also rear pigs providing all the fresh pork for the shop. We buy weaner pigs from a local farmer, who breeds them for us, ensuring a consistent and high quality supply. We then rear these pigs on a nutritionally balanced diet providing a distinctive flavour of pork, which differs to many others we have tried. The fat has a buttery texture with the meat a beautiful creamy colour and full in flavour.

From farmers to butchers… with the customer at the forefront of every decision

We tend to concentrate on conformity rather than volume when it comes to farming our animals. We choose to cross our cattle breeds to result in animals of the right shape and size and we consider the mothering ability of the cows and the shape and size of the bulls. Grazing on grass through the summer months and a grass silage based diet in the winter months, together with warmth and shelter give the best results.  It is true to say that happy animals that are well-bred and well cared for give the best quality meat.

Edward, pictured below with a prime rib of beef, matured on the bone for 21 days. In 2004 our rib of beef was crowned the Best Roast Beef Dinner in England at the EBLEX George Awards, cooked by Chef Janine Lishman-Pete and award presented by celebrity Yorkshire Chef, Brian Turner.