In the early seventies several things coincided that were to map out the future shape of my business.
I had been keeping pigs since the age of sixteen when I was given one as a present and when we moved to Heal Farm I had the space to expand my herd. Early stories of intensive farming methods and industrial food processing appalled us. Animal welfare has always been somewhat of an obsession. Farming taking into account the natural behavioural instincts of the animals is of paramount importance. When I asked for the ingredients list for pig feed at that time no supplier could give me a satisfactory answer! I had all our animal feed specially mixed to my own recipe using high quality uncomplicated ingredients. No added prophylactic drugs or growth promoters. Recent food scares has forced the industry to change and customers are a lot more questioning about the origin and health of their food now thank goodness. Back then I felt like a lone voice!
I joined in the work of the newly formed Rare Breeds Survival Trust and learnt about the acute need to conserve the unique genetic material carried by our fast disappearing breeds of domestic livestock. Soon my collection of pigs was made up of all seven rare breeds of pigs including Middle Whites and Tamworths. We won lots of prizes for our pigs exhibiting at shows and sold young stock but I knew to secure the future of these breeds I needed to find a sustainable market for them.
We started offering half pigs for freezers and were stunned by the positive response. Our common sense farming methods and natural feed coupled with the slow growing traditional breeds produced an award winning flavour pork.
In 1979 we took the plunge and converted a dairy building into a butchery. We researched old sausage, bacon and ham recipes and the new lines we produced were eagerly snapped up. Right from the start we established a stringent quality policy, our products would be of the highest standard that we could possibly achieve.
Our basic philosophies are as strong today as they were nearly 40 years ago.
Early in 1983 we were written about in The Telegraph and received 15,000 enquiries during the following 10 days! Ever since customers up and down the country have enjoyed the convenience of receiving Heal Farm products by mail order. The product list is a constant evolving process guided by customer demand for something new but always with the same Heal Farm ethics and quality.
I have retired from active farming myself but am proud to support farmers from Devon and Cornwall following the high quality standards in place today. As well as providing a mail order service direct to your door we welcome collection of pre orders from our new unit on Pathfields in South Molton. We don’t have a shop counter but ordering in advance means everything is freshly prepared and packed for you ready for collection.
We really enjoy our work supplying meat to many of the brilliant hotels and restaurants in the area. We cut and pack exactly to the chef’s requirements and source new products and cuts for them. Our forgotten beef cuts are a real winner with the chefs as with careful cooking these less expensive cuts are beautifully tender and jam-packed with flavour. If you are a caterer or chef please call Anne Petch on 01769 574341 to find out more about how Heal Farm can help you with your business. If there is a special cut of meat or product you are after that doesn’t appear on our website please ask – if you can describe it we can normally find it! Please also ask our advice if you are catering for a party or special event.
Heal Farm – ‘Large enough to deliver, small enough to care’