March 2019 at Wark Farm
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I've long been intrigued by the notion of terroir; the collection of physical and environmental factors from a specific location that influence how crops or animals grow and, ultimately, taste. It's a key component of the wine makers craft, product and story. Cheese has its share of terroir stories too. There are fewer examples in the world of meat products, where breed and farming system are generally more dominant in the contribution that they make to the final product experience. There is little doubt that there is an influence though. Years ago I spoke to a food/gastronomy chemist (not words that I am always ready to put next to each other!) at an event in Italy who was measuring significant changes in flavour profiles in cheeses made in the same system/methodology but from different, though local, terroirs. I asked him whether the same would apply to meat and he was certain that it would. Makes sense.
Over 15 years here a number of the terroir effects will have altered; the soil after over a decade under organic management is functioning in different ways, this must influence plant and so animal health and biochemistry. The range of plants growing on the farm, in both agricultural mixes and in created wildlife habitats has increased very greatly - all of which feed in to the final products. Sadly we have no measurable experience of how this may have changed over the time. Looking forward now though, from a position with some solidly established agro-ecological systems in place, taste can move into a more focussed and exploratory place within the business. The rebuild of the butchery after the fire (the main rebuild is now finally underway) is going to be much more welcoming to guests and groups exploring the world of meat production, butchery, cookery and taste and includes a dedicated kitchen and gathering space to better host events and experiences. Alongside this we continue to develop our agricultural systems and our butchery craft in a more formalised way, feeding into the products we sell and the experiences on offer.
Back to this month, we are in the equivalent of the vegetable growers late winter/spring hungry gap with a full range of Hebridean lamb and Belted Galloway beef available but no venison or poultry this month; venison should return next month or the following one, once the seasons change and our poultry will return to the list into the late spring/summer now that the hatchery is filling up again; the breeding flocks having starting laying again in February. An up to date order form is available here should you wish to order. We will be delivering to Deeside, Donside and Aberdeen on Friday 15th, we will be at Banchory Farmers Market on Saturday 16th and will be open at the farm for shopping and collection of order on Sunday 17th.