Working with nature since 1985
Tim and Jo came to Higher Hacknell in 1985 with a determination to farm, but in a way that worked with nature and not against it.
So, in 1988 we started farming organically, a system which we believe offers many common-sense answers to the problems facing agriculture, the food industry and our environment. Organic standards embrace all aspects of the farming system, most especially animal welfare, wildlife conservation and food safety. We believe as strongly now, as we did back then, that for our future health and well being, it is the way forward.
Producing our own food, vegetables from the garden, cider from the orchard and meat from our own animals happened as a natural part of our farming life. From just feeding our family in the beginning, we now deliver our produce to homes nationwide.
We hope you'll enjoy our organic meat too!
Higher Hacknell, nestling in a secluded part of North Devon between Dartmoor and Exmoor is a true mixed farm with cattle, sheep, crops and a cider orchard where chickens peck and wander beneath the trees. The 350 acres are farmed in a traditional way, using rotational methods to prevent pests and disease and provide a clean, healthy grazing system which avoids the use of drugs and antibiotics.
The farm is mostly grassland, a combination of permanent pasture, whose native grasses and wild plants making it a valuable resouce for wildlife, and lush clover rich leys, ideal for the rearing of cattle and sheep. On the better land, we grow barley and peas, so that our animals are fed completely from our farm. This means we don’t rely on imported protein, such as soya, which has to be grown abroad and transported long distances, with a high carbon footprint. The straw provides comfortable bedding and is returned to the land in the form of farmyard manure. We think our traditional system is the perfect example of producing sustainable food in a way which is self sufficient and where everything we grow is used, recycled and put back into the land.
Wildlife thrives at Higher Hacknell, with numerous hedgerows providing 'corridors' around the farm, from the five acres of ponds and woodland to the hay meadows. These are a refuge for rare birds like snipe and skylarks and is somewhere for wildflowers to flourish in the spring and summer. Our cider apple orchard provides us with more than apples and cider, as it supports numerous birds, bees and chickens, as well as providing home grown vegetables- the original permaculture system! In 1986 we won the Loraine Award for Conservation and Organic Husbandry and in 2001 were awarded the Prince of Wales Award for Sustainable Farming.
“We think it is important that you know exactly where your meat comes from and how it has been produced”
Born bread and fed right here on our farm or sourced locally
We are proud of our South Devon cattle whose gentle nature and rich milk make them ideal mothers. Calves suckle their milk for around a year and then graze on the pastures on which no artificial fertilisers are used. South Devon’s are renowned for being able to grow well from grass, maturing slowly at around 2 – 3 years of age. The beef is prized for its excellent all round qualities with great flavour, plenty of meat and enough marbling to ensure superb tenderness.
We started off with two families of South Devon cows back in 1985, as we believe the local breeds have the best beef, and have increased our herd over the years to around 45 cows, plus all their progeny, making about 150 cattle in all. The cows are purely grass fed. The herd is home bred and we have never had a case of B.S.E at the farm. All the beef we supply is born, bred and fed at Higher Hacknell Farm and is fully traceable. It is literally born one side of our farm yard, and eventually ends up on the other side in our farm butchery a few yards away. How’s that for food miles!
Most of our pork is supplied by locally in the West Country. The pigs are free range and reared to Soil Association standards guaranteeing the highest welfare system. The breed is Duroc cross Large white pigs, as well as some Gloucester Old Spots from time to time.
As we are rather fond of our native breed pigs, we do like to rear a few ourselves from time to time but don’t have enough for a consistent supply for our butchery. All the pork, bacon and sausages are butchered and made in the Higher Hacknell Farm butchery and are fully traceable from start to finish.
Our sheep are also home bred and we keep Lleyns, originally a Welsh breed which make excellent mothers with good fertility and they have the ability to thrive on grass without additional feeds. We lamb at the traditional time of year at the end of March and April so that the ewes have plenty of spring grass to provide milk for their lambs until they are weaned in late summer.
The earliest lambs are ready at the end of July when the meat is pale and extremely tender, with the flavour maturing with the autumn and winter months. By January the lamb is often called hogget to distinguish it from the out of season or imported lamb. We also supply mutton which is becoming increasingly popular. All the lamb we supply is born, bred and fed at Higher Hacknell Farm.
Whilst we reared all the poultry at Higher Hacknell Farm for many years, we’ve realised we can’t do it all ourselves, so now get our chicken from Chris Labdon in East Devon.
The chickens are also killed humanely on the farm to strict Soil Association organic standards which is less stressful for them. The ‘hubbard’ chickens have a truly free range life for at least 10 weeks, which is double the usual life of a conventional chicken. They are reared in small flocks of 500 birds with open fields to roam and forage across and have more space outside, and in their houses at night, than standard free range birds.
They are reared on a diet of organic feed, chopped straw and anything available within their habitat. The superb taste and texture of an organic chicken is completly different from standard supermarket chicken as I’m sure you’ll agree.
The best quality organic meat as well as genuine provenance.
In 2004 we built the butchery, converted from old farm buildings, so that we could have complete supervision over every part of the process of rearing, then processing the meat from the farm so that we could truly offer the very best quality organic meat as well as genuine provenance.
The animals are carefully selected by us or the farmers we work with, and taken to a small abattoir, just a short distance from here. We are fortunate to be able to use one of the few small abattoirs that remain in this country as we believe this is a lot less stressful for the animals. They are stunned and slaughtered under the supervision of a vet to the strictest EU and standards in an organically certified abattoir.
The meat is delivered back to our farm butchery here at Higher Hacknell where it is hung and dry aged in our butchery to bring out its full flavour and tenderness. Beef is hung for around 21 days or more, lambs 7-14 days and pork 5-10 days. Our highly skilled and experienced butcher then selects the cuts for your orders which are carefully vacuum packed ready to dispatch directly to our customers so that it is received in perfect condition.
We supply a full range of organic meat: beef, lamb, pork and chicken (as well as Christmas turkeys). You can choose your own selection of cuts or one of our regular boxes, which offer exceptionally good value.
We think it is important that you know exactly where your meat comes from and how it has been produced.