Lovers of Dartmoor’s iconic landscape can now ‘taste the view’ by purchasing prime lamb from a selection of Morrisons stores as part of its local campaign, sourcing lambs from the Dartmoor Farmers’ Association.
In 2007, supported by HRH The Prince of Wales, the Dartmoor Farmers Association was formed. It currently has about 70 members.
Its aim is to promote the area’s livestock, environment and the infamous landscape enjoyed by thousands of people every day.
Member and third-generation Dartmoor farmer Mat Cole farms 809 hectares (2,000 acres) and says many of the participating families have farmed in the area for generations and the formation of the association has been a major breakthrough for farmers.
He says: “Traditionally, Dartmoor farmers compete over the same piece of land on the commons and it has been a real game-changer to work together as an association rather than compete against each other.”
The livestock reared on the farms are predominantly native breeds which are able to withstand extremes of weather experienced during a typical year on Dartmoor.
Many are born on the hill and grazed on semi-natural habitats, which contributes to a premium product boasting a superior flavour and texture to the meat.
Mat says: “Last year we supplied 5,000 lambs into Morrisons stores and, going forwards, we are hoping to grow that and absorb as much lamb off Dartmoor and through our season.
“Our love and passion is our livestock so welfare is our greatest concern. We now feel as if we are being valued and not just taking a price we are being given.
Members of the association are involved in agri-environment schemes and also sign up to a set of principles which look to reduce food miles and ensure traceability.
Among the group’s objectives is to seek and share skills and knowledge with future generations of farmers and help develop a sustainable farming future.
Mat says: “Dartmoor is a fantastic landscape. It has been a farmed landscape for thousands of years. We just hope to pick up where our ancestors left and we will take that forward and leave it in as good, if not better, condition for the next generation.”
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