Day 12 – Waste Not!

Sustainability is at the heart of our farming ethos, and these values are carried on in the Farm Shop and especially the Coffee Shop, which has played an important role in our reduction of waste since its opening in 2007. 

When your grandmother lived through the shortages of World War II and was known for darning her American tan tights and hanging tea bags on the washing line to dry before re-use, saving every scrap of tin foil and washing out bread bags to re-use as plastic bags, you learn to appreciate how saving the pennies can save the pounds as well as the planet.

Farmers are well known for never throwing anything away – as the heap of junk in the back field testifies.  It’s amazing how often a bit of scrap metal, old pipe or timber can be recycled into something useful, from farm machinery repairs to Forest Adventure play equipment and bird boxes. Reducing waste doesn’t stop there…the farm team gather wood from fallen trees and chop it up before storing it to dry out… making fabulous firewood that we sell in the farm shop and use to fuel the fire in the coffee shop on colder days. 

Equally in the Farm Shop our aim is to use the whole carcass, with a nose to tail attitude, wasting as little as possible. We were worried when we first opened the butchery that we would struggle to sell the forequarter meat in comparison with the easy to sell choice steak cuts.  As it’s turned out, people love our beef mince and burgers, as well as the more unusual cheaper cuts such as short ribs, brisket, featherblade and shin beef and so this hasn’t been a problem. We manage to give away / sell a large percentage of our carcass bones and we even mince as much of the gristly inedible beef to make our very popular raw dog feed. Offal is very popular these days, and what liver we can’t sell we try to use up in our Broom House terrines, and beef fat is rendered down into our own beef dripping.  

One unanticipated benefit of opening the Coffee Shop in 2007 was it’s role in helping to reduce waste. It’s a very tricky and unpredictable thing to know how many bottles of milk you’re going to sell from one week to the next, or to work out why everyone is suddenly done with rhubarb for the year… even though it still looks lovely in the shop. The coffee shop team are able to turn that unwanted rhubarb into a tasty cake and get the surplus milk made into some top notch coffees. Vegetables nearing the end of life are whizzed into superb soups and if we have a backlog of mince they’ll pop on an extra burger special for us, or make a tasty chilli dish.  When planning his menus, Tim will liaise with the butchery team to find out what needs using, and it’s a real skill to be able to adapt to this way of thinking rather than just cooking what he feels like.