Producer of the Year: Great Food Club Awards 2020

Winner

Elms Farm, Costock, Leicestershire


Finalists

Vine Farm Dairy, Great Dalby, Leicestershire
Kingarth Farm Dairy, Burton Overy, Leicestershire
Home Farm Produce, Grove, near Retford, Nottinghamshire


The winner is Elms Farm of Costock. Elms Farm is run by the Brown family, who have a long heritage of managing farms. As a family, they are passionate about sharing their way of life with other people so they too can learn about animal husbandry and care of the countryside.  

Phil Thatcher of Elms Farm, Costock

The butchery is run by Phil Thatcher, who sells the farm’s native and heritage breeds of cattle such as Dexter, plus Suffolk sheep and Tamworth pigs. Beef is typically aged for 28 days, although they have aged it for 60 days at a customer’s request. The butchery also sells locally produced herb-fed chicken and other local products.

Elms Farm’s butchery counter

Kingarth Dairy of Burton Overy has a herd of 107 pedigree Holstein and is open seven days a week, selling milk from the farm vending machines. Caroline Barbour also sells cream, milkshakes and butter jars for those who want to make their own butter. This is surprisingly easy, it took us less than 10 minutes! As they say it’s just three hours from grass to glass!

Kingarth Farm Dairy’s ‘butter jar’
GFC editor-at-large Philip Seaman with Caroline Barbour of Kingarth Farm Dairy

Vine Farm Dairy of Great Dalby is a well-established dairy with a mixed herd of over 350 Holstein, Jersey and Montbeliarde. The farm has installed a vending machine in the village and plans to produce cream, butter and cheese in the future.

Milking at Vine Farm Dairy

Vine Farm supplies the local community and also some local establishments such as The Olive Branch of Clipsham, Gelato Village of Leicester and Rutland’s Hambleton Hall. The latter supplies bread waste, which Vine Farm mixes into its cattle feed.

Vine Farm’s vending machine in Great Dalby

Home Farm of Grove near Retford is another generational farm, this one with a prize-winning herd of Limousin cattle, which provides the beef. Matthew and his partner Paula are focusing on rare breeds and raise Gloucestershire Old Spots and Large Blacks, from which they produce bacon and gammon.

Paul and Matthew of Home Farm Produce

Home Farm Produce sells its products, which include beef jerky, home-cured Pastrami, American Style Corned Beef and Bacon, direct to local customers as well as Gainsborough and Doncaster farmers on markets. Matthew and Paula are passionate about what they do and have lots of plans to expand into other rare breed animals.

Large Blacks on Home Farm near Retford

Judging the Producer Category for the 2019/20 Awards was especially tough. On our visits, all four farms demonstrated an admirable passion for their products. Each produces excellent-quality food and drink and there was so very little to choose between them. Congratulations to them all.

Philip Seaman
The author:

Philip lives in West Cambridgeshire in the Parish of Catworth with his wife. He loves eating out which he does for both pleasure and business. His other interests are collecting cookery books and menus, driving his tractor and working on the renovation of their old farm.