A Somerset farmer has given his meat box customers a unique chance to learn about life on farm by setting up a ‘community food group’.
Nick Hiscox, who farms beef, sheep and pigs on the Mendip Hills, created the group to give people outside of agriculture a better understanding of how their food is produced.
For the discounted price of £21.50 a month, group members will have a whole lamb – half in summer and half in winter – plus 30-35 kilograms of pork, delivered direct to their door.
The meat is locally slaughtered and butchered and arrives pre-packaged and labelled.
All group members must do to get the discount is go to Mr Hiscox’s farm for a picnic once a year. They are also welcome to go to the farm more often, for walks or to see lambing, for instance, if they choose.
“I want people to appreciate the connection between what they are buying and where it comes from”, Mr Hiscox said.
“We do not tell consumers anything anymore. When you talk to people and they ask you what you think is the most stupid, bizarre question ever, it is actually for me a realisation that they know what we tell them and we do not tell them anything.
“I can answer kids’ questions. They like to talk about dung beetles and I do not mind telling them.
“Even in the winter when we are laying hedges, I get the kids to come along and have a crack at laying a hedge for an hour until they are bored, and then they come back in the summer and see it sprouting into a sea of green.
“I do put time into it, but it is time I see as promoting our industry.”
The group was formally established on June 1 with ten members, but there are already a further 10-20 people who have expressed an interest in joining.
By next June, Mr Hiscox expects to have 50 core members.
“We have been bowled over by the amount of interest in what we are doing”, he said.
“But at the end of the day, no one can tell the story and represent farming like the farmer can. The supply chain cannot do it. We can give consumers something the supply chain cannot even come close to.”