In complete contrast to my day at the Lammas project, the next day took me to a farm producing organic, grass fed beef and lamb and, whilst done with compassion and caring for a fragile environment, very much a commercial operation.
Hazelwell Farm is located near Whitland in the Vale of Taff in Carmarthenshire. The aim is to produce healthy contented animals in a sympathetic stress-free environment. In parallel there is the ambition to produce outstanding quality meat, which at Hazelwell means working with British native breeds renowned for their eating quality. Thus the cattle are breeds such as the Welsh Black and Hereford, whilst the sheep are Lleyn, renowned for their ability to produce good meat from grass and clover. Something must be working as Hazelwell are winners of several True Taste of Wales awards, as well as supplying some of the top restaurants in West Wales.
Hazelwell animals are fed only on grass and cereals produced on the farm, and organic certification means the farm is run without the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, feed additives and GM material. Farm Manager, Paul Oeppen, is the man in charge. He lives on the farm with his young family. In total, the farm has 3 staff along with a part time butcher and has been selling meat direct since 2006.
Much is also done at Hazelwell by way of environmental enhancement with biodiversity a key component of management strategies, the farm carries out a wide range of conservation work. It makes for a magical place to wander in the early morning sunlight.
So much so positive, but still a challenging day, and one that not everyone would be happy with. It didn’t take me long running the Feeding Body and Soul blog to realise that meat eating is a very contentious issue and many have very strong feelings against it. Whilst I am a meat eater, in the roaming the fields with the Hazelwell animals, its impossible not to question, and indeed question long and hard. Personally I still come down on the side of meat eating, but a very qualified ‘yes’ which demands standards of animal welfare as found at Hazelwell. You can feel the compassion, you don’t need to be told that animal welfare issues are a high priority. When that’s the case I eat. I can see the case against though. All I ask is that we respect each others position. I have had so much abuse thrown in my direction from within the vegan/vegetarian movement after posting on Feeding Body and Soul, I am a little wary, but Hazelwell really does show its not all farmageddon. For me that’s enough, but I accept it may not be for others.
There are two guest posts on Feeding Body and Soul in favour of meat eating from two readers who have stuck their head above the parapet. Click here and here. If anyone else wishes to add to a civilised debate please do either comment below or contact me with a proposed guest post.
You can also follow Hazelwell Farm on Facebook. Click here.
[Double clicking on any of the images below will open up that image up in a slideshow format. You can then run the slide show using ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons. Personally I prefer to go also to full screen having opened the slide show – F11 on my PC, don’t forget to get out of full screen is the same button , not ESC]