Residents and visitors across Exmoor as well as further afield can now get a true taste of Exmoor at home by buying grass-fed lamb direct from some of the area’s passionate farmers and producers.
A new list of farms supplying lamb direct and accompanying film has just been released and is available on-line from Exmoor Hill Farming Network (EHFN), Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA), Visit Exmoor and Edible Exmoor.
Grass-fed Exmoor lamb can often be found on the menus of the area’s award-winning restaurants including Woods, Dulverton, the Coleridge Restaurant at Dunkery Beacon Hotel, the Coach House, Kentisbury Grange and the Swan, Bampton. But this is the first time a supply chain has been developed for people to enjoy the product at home.
One of the farmers supplying direct is Holly Purdey at Horner Farm. Holly said: “We farm in the Porlock Vale working with nature to ensure biodiversity across the farm is being restored, building a healthy environment for us all while producing a delicious, nutritious product. We keep native- breed ewes, ensuring our lambs grow at their own speed, resulting in the perfect balance of flavour, fat and tenderness.”
Katrina Munro, who works on Exmoor National Park Authority’s Eat Exmoor initiative, promoting the benefits of buying local food, said: “One thing we should all be taking away from the lockdown experience is the vital importance of food security and supply. Local producers and shops have been at the heart of keeping people fed and now we need to ensure they continue to benefit from our support. By buying produce from Exmoor you’ll be helping our rural economy recover as well as doing your bit to protect the environment and conserve the beautiful landscapes of Exmoor.”
The succulent juiciness and characteristic flavour of Exmoor lamb won over diners at an event at Woods in Dulverton at the end of 2019. Restaurateur and producer Paddy Groves served lamb cutlets from four regions across the UK and the Exmoor grass-fed lamb was the most popular in a blind-tasting, with customers using words like ‘delicious’ and ‘cuts like butter’. The event features in a short film celebrating the quality and benefits of Exmoor grass-fed lamb available at: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/eat-exmoor.
Professor Jeff Wood, a leading academic specialising in animal and meat production who co-led a study with Bristol and Exeter Universities, comparing red meats that had been raised in different agricultural systems, said: “When compared to standard produced meat raised on a large proportion of processed feed, the grass-fed meat was preferred by all the taste panels in our study. You also have more omega-3 fatty acids in a grass-fed product from the leafy grass the animals eat. So, you not only get a good tasting product, but also something which is better for human health as well.”
The register of suppliers has been complied by Katherine Williams of EHFN. Katherine said: “OSur farmers are protecting the landscape and the environment by using both traditional and modern sustainable farming methods and keeping food miles to a minimum. They’re passionate about conserving the area and also the high welfare of their animals. Traceability and provenance are also so important to us and the animals here are all reared on a very high percentage grass diet – making the lamb both tasty and healthier to eat.”
The Exmoor Hill Farming Network is welcoming enquiries from retail, food and hospitality businesses who wish to supply Exmoor lamb direct to customers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The list of farms supplying lamb direct can be found at www.ehfn.org.uk , www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/eat-exmoor , www.edibleexmoor.co.uk or go to www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/eat-exmoor for some of the area’s top restaurants.