Helmshore Farm Leads Way Preserving Rare Breeds and Now Selling Meat Locally

Down on the farm with the cows, from left Josh Vines, Kayley and Tim.
Photo Catherine Smyth Media

MEAT from rare breeds reared in Helmshore is served in fine dining restaurants and on cruise ships and is now available locally to buy.

It was five years ago that Tim Vines, his son Josh and daughter-in-law Kayley decided to try their hand at farming having had a handful of cattle on their 15-acres of land.

Tim and his wife Debbie invested in 150 acres at neighbouring Kiln Clough Farm, in Helmshore Road, which had been used for rearing sheep. Now it is home to 93 rare breed and native cattle including Belted Galloway, Riggit and Blue Grey, and 150-200 rare breed and native pigs including Oxford Sandy and Black, Tamworth and Middle White.

Josh Vines with the mix of rare breed and native pigs at Kiln Clough Farm.

In response to a BBC documentary on environmental issues stemming from intensive beef farming ‘Meat: a threat to our planet’, Tim said: “Here we have sustainable grazing livestock and they convert naturally growing grass into high quality protein. Grazing livestock acts as a natural fertiliser for the soil and it stores carbon to maintain the habitat and look after the land. Our meat is no threat to the planet.”

The family owns Northern Whisper Brewery in Cloughfold and for the last four years a hugely popular beer festival has been held on the farm over four days in August. Half the animals’ feed comes from spent grain from the brewery as sustainability is very important to the family.

Josh, 27, said: “We set up the Larder Drop for two reasons, firstly to diversify the farm’s business activities and secure our future in this time of uncertainty in the UK. Secondly, we had received a lot of messages through our beer festival page over the last few years from people wanting to buy our meat.”


Josh Vines with Looby Lou a Belted Galloway being hand reared after being rejected by her mother

Animals are supplied to a high-end wholesaler, but in response to the local demand the family has set up an online company Larder Drop and now ‘buys back’ cuts for customers. All meat sold through Larder Drop comes in as little plastic and non-recyclable packaging as possible.

Josh said: “We are promoting as many rare and different breeds because we want to do our bit to support traditional British breeds and they each provide different cuts of meat. We allow our animals to mature at their own rate and that is what gives their meat its superior texture and flavour. Our meat has 30 per cent less saturated fat and is rich in Omega 3.”

During the week Tim and farmhands run the farm while Josh runs Northern Whisper where Kayley works. Josh and other family members still run Response Footwear in Cloughfold, which Tim founded.

Tim, 62, added: “I didn’t want to think about retiring, gardening and growing old.”

To visit Larder Drop log on to the Facebook page Kiln Clough Farm or visit www.larderdrop.co.uk. Local deliveries are made free of charge.

by Catherine Smyth Media

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