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Chris Berry talks with farmer supplier Stuart Raw of Castle Bolton, North Yorkshire
Stuart Raw - Farmer
Ex-Dry Stone Waller
Working with like-minded, quality conscious farmers is one of the keys to Farmison & Co's on-going success, building relationships that are based on respect gained by dedication and sincerity on both sides. Finding that perfect match of livestock men and women producing stress-free, grass reared native heritage breeds is very much the essential benchmark and Stuart Raw of Castle Bolton in North Yorkshire is now a vital part of Farmison & Co's growing farming team.
Stuart, whose farming family ties go back many generations, started his Dexter herd following a career in dry stone walling that was cut short when his back could no longer cope after years of wear and tear. Stone walling's loss has been Farmison & Co's gain as with the company's increasing demand for grass-reared Dexter beef Stuart's move to specialisation in the breed has benefitted both his farming enterprise and the premier online butchers.
'I enjoy working with cows,' says Stuart, whose father once had a dairy herd at Hollins Farm, Carperby where Stuart still has land today as well as his Dexter herd at East End Farm, Castle Bolton.
'I take great satisfaction in providing quality cattle as naturally reared as possible given the elements the weather sometimes throws our way up here. Grazing pastures and feeding hay and haylage when they have to come inside to protect both themselves and the ground brings about far greater texture and marbling to the beef.'
Stuart's move towards supplying quality beef was inspired by his ambition to produce better tasting meat packed full of flavour and to create beef that would gain a far superior reputation than he had tasted previously.
'I was so disappointed with the quality of beef purchased through supermarkets. Inconsistency of flavour was and still is a major problem for the large stores. Don't get me wrong, achieving a consistent product when it is coming from different animals, albeit the same breed, is not a simple task. It takes time to manage, rear and look after your animals in the right way, but the rewards of achieving a consistent product are there for all to see and that's why I'm now delighted to be working closely with Farmison & Co.'
'Farming is in a dodgy predicament at the moment as we're not sure how things are going to change, so our recent contract with Farmison & Co to provide them with Dexter beef all year round adds security to our income and allows us to invest further for the future.'
'Farmison & Co understand that it's not about finishing an animal at a specific age but more about when it is right for beef. They don't push me to finish the animals earlier than is going to produce the desired quality and would far rather they grow in a natural way. It is refreshing and heartening to see a business care more about how that extra two to three months can change a product from fantastic to an absolutely unbelievable taste.'
'They also understand about the flavour that comes through marbling and how a combination of grazing herb rich grasses and the maturity of the animal can elevate beef to that higher level way beyond a consumer's expectations. It is this kind of positive attitude towards what I and others are producing that sets them apart.'
The F&Co Team Visit Stuart
Farmison & Co - Commercial Director
Fortnum & Mason; Selfridges; HRH Highgrove Estate
'We are serious about and totally committed to native heritage breeds such as the Dexter and our customers are leading the way. It is their demand for succulent, tender beef with real taste that is allowing us to give farmers like Stuart greater commitment.'
'For me it's a dream role coming up here from London and working with farmers like Stuart. He's absorbed in what we are doing and the direction we are taking and understands it along with others such as Neil Heseltine of Malham with his Belted Galloways and David Harrison of Grewelthorpe with Galloways.'
'This is such an exciting time right now and it is truly amazing to be around breeders and rearers of sheep, pigs, poultry, game and cattle in this incredible county of Yorkshire. Inhaling these beautiful pastures proves there is far more to life than my previous daily commute on South West Trains into Waterloo.'
Nick Mellin of Farmison & Co
Farmison & Co - Butchery Manager
Farmer, Butcher, Cattle Showman
'The biggest key to any meat product is consistency and maintaining that is no mean feat. It requires expert animal husbandry that can only be achieved through an utterly professional approach.'
'We sold out every cut of Dexter for Christmas 2018 immediately and our customers are all coming back for more because of the depth of flavour and texture from the marbling. Stuart's eye for detail and finishing knowledge is assuring our butchery of a product that allows us to cut every steak the way it should be. Our consistency of product is dictated by what comes through our doors and Stuart's hits the mark every time.'