June 2019 at Wark Farm
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This is a guest post, by Sabrina M.
Do you believe in the notion of terroir? Terroir, derived from the French word for land ‘terre’, refers to the set of environmental factors that affect the crops growing in a certain place/region. Narrowly defined, it looks at how the soil, its richness, its acidness, its minerality, affect the crops. More broader, it’s also about the climate, the surrounding nature, even the farming practices. It’s terroir that makes the same crops growing in different places taste differently.
At Wark Farm we do believe in terroir. We believe in enriching the earth by selecting specific kinds of plants for different parts of the farm. We also believe in not depleting the earth from its richness in the first place. At the same time, the notion of terroir stretches even further for us. As the earth and the environment impact what grows on our grounds, the diet of our cattle and sheep are impacted as well, and so are the taste of our meats and our pies. We tell people that our meat and pies are about tasting the wild richness of Scotland and if one were to describe the signatory taste of our terroir, the one red thread running through everything we produce, it would be a sense of wildness, an unpolished richness. There’s a beauty to weeds, to wildness, but it does need to be tamed. In a certain way. And maybe not too much. Because if there’s no wildness left, we’re undoubtedly impoverishing our lives.
There’s a strange parallel if we look at how the perspective on terroir has evolved over time. In the 18th century wines with a taste of terroir (gout de terroir) were considered defective. A French dictionary published in 1690 explains ‘One says that the wine has a taste of terroir when it has some disagreeable quality that comes to it from the nature of the terroir where the vine is planted.’ In French old regimes, the elite rejected terroir wines as rustic and impure, only suitable for peasants and it took until the early 20th century for terroir to evolve from a flaw to a virtue. Vintners from Champagne led the way, claiming their land had special characteristics that lent their wines their distinctive taste. While a part of this movement was probably driven by economic incentives, allowing regional vintners to protect their brand, over time much scientific research has followed experimenting with the effects of different kinds of environmental factors, such as the effect of different kinds of neighbouring plants and even the bacteria/yeasts growing around. But in any way, what one time was seen as defective is now seen as something that lends distinction, that is to be cherished. Terroir is that characteristic that allows local food produce to distinguish itself from mass produced foods. Once again affirming our sense of the importance of remaining ‘unpolished’.
If we strive for our food to be perfect, we would realise blandness. If we strive to be perfect ourselves, we would lose what makes ourselves unique.
I fell in love with the wildness of this country. And so I promise I will not try to tame it. I will look at the weeds shooting up here and there, and maybe I will try to tame part of our land, but there will always be some room for some wildness. Because it’s what the world needs. And I as well.
If you want to buy some of our meats or pies, with their terroir Wark Farm taste: next week we’ll be having our monthly open days. This month we have our freshly cut Belted Galloway Beef and Hebridean Lamb, as well probably a limited supply of wild venison. Bacon is back on the menu as well this month. As everything is freshly cut, we try to accommodate everyone’s requests, but cannot guarantee it. We will also treat your orders in order of reception, meaning the sooner you get your order in, the more likelihood there is that you will be able to get your full order.
You can put in your meat orders via the online form. Orders need to be submitted by Tuesday 11th June, 5pm.
Orders can either be picked up at Banchory Farmers Market on Saturday 15th June or at the farm on Sunday 16th June between 10am to 1pm. Visitors to the farm will be treated with one of our delicious pies. Delivery at home is also possible and is free of charge for deliveries of £35 or higher. Please don’t forget to input your address even if you already did so in the past. If lower than £35, a delivery charge of £5 will be added to your invoice.
Frozen pies can be bought as well, but are collect only as we do not deliver any frozen goods. They can either be collected at the market or at the farm.