Know You Farmer - Eat Farm Fresh, Q&A with Richard Vaughan from Huntsham Court Farm
We at Harvest Bundle believe a better connection to those that produce our food will benefit the whole food system in more ways than one. From husbandry, welfare, environment, quality to our health etc etc.
Richard Vaughan from Huntsham Farm is like his animals - a rare breed. We find his story compelling and inspirational and we hope you like the Q&A session we did with him.
Richard is a 71 year old farmer which today in his own words - is almost considered a young farmer.
Were you always destined to be involved in Food & Farming?
Aged 16 I was taken by my father to see the tenant on Huntsham who wanted me to take over. I told him thought I was a bit young so he asked “when could you” I worked out if I did my O levels, a years practical, then the two year scientific course at Cirencester I would be 21 so he turned to my father and said he was retiring 2nd February 1970 and the farm would be vacant then. So I was thrown in the deep end aged 21
Tell us how you produce food – what is your farming system?
I started with mixed farming, arable and livestock, and built up to doing 1000 beef cattle a year for the supermarkets. I gave this business up as they only wanted to buy cheaper which was depressing.
I thought there should be a business to be had in trying to produce meat in the way the great chateaux of the world produce wine.
In other words “how do you make it better not how do you make it cheaper”.
We started supplying private individuals and I then sent a sample of my meat to the food editor of the Financial Times. She rang me to say she thought she understood about meat as her family had been butchers and she used a very high class butcher in London. She said my beef was much better and my pork was in a completely different league. She asked if she could buy half a pig and told me she would be writing about me. This got the telephone ringing merrily. I repeated the same trick with House and Garden and six months after they had written about me the journalist rang to say she had just been having lunch with a chef called Henry Harris who had complained he could not get good pork. She told him I had the best pork in England and advised me to ring him and sell him half a pig.
This I did and a week later I rang to see what he had though of it. He told me it was twice as good as some organic pork he had been getting and half the price and asked when could he have the next one.
From there chef customers grew and we now supply from good pubs up the grandest chefs and do about a third of the Michelin Starred restaurants in the country and export to Hong Kong where we were used for the 50 Best Restaurants in Asia dinner recently and our 55 day dry aged Middle White was used some years ago for the 50 Best Restaurants in the World dinner.
How ethical are your practices, would you say?
Giving our animals a great life before they give us wonderful meat is fundamental to the way we farm.
Did you always want to run your own business?
Which is your best selling product?
Our Longhorn beef (chosen by Heston Blumenthal for his television series “Perfection”) and our Middle White pork are equal sellers. Our Ryeland lamb is only less because we have less available. But a 2* Michelin chef thought it was the best lamb he had ever eaten and wanted to use it for a visiting President on a state visit.
When did you have most FUN running the business?
It puts a spring into your step when customers, both private individuals and restaurants, tell one how happy they are with what they have had.
Best decision you've made in your business career?
To stop industrial farming
What is your delivery schedule and do you deliver nationwide?
We deliver all over England and Wales and export to Hong Kong
Where would you like your business to be in 20 years?
A little bigger but not much so we always have a tight grip on quality of our animals life, our staff’s enjoyment in what they do for us and the quality of the product we send to our customers.
We hope that sheds some more light on Richard's story and the way he farms.
Farming - its the biggest job in the world.
Richard sells a range of boxes and individual cuts of his world renowned middle white pork and longhorn beef cattle.