Lanarkshire Larder: Producer Case Studies
Lanarkshire Larder Regional Food Group was established in April 2021 and is made up of local food and drink producers, food retail and hospitality venues
Lanarkshire Larder Regional Food Group was established in April 2021 and is made up of local food and drink producers, food retail and hospitality venues. Get to know some local producers from the case studies below:
The Wee Farm Distillery
The Wee Farm Distillery is South Lanarkshire’s hidden gem based on the McKerr family’s farm in the village of Climpy near Forth, South Lanarkshire.
The first craft distillery in South Lanarkshire, established in March 2018, is a one woman operation run by Jenny McKerr on the livestock farm, along with her husband and three daughters. It’s the home of Drovers, Clydesdale and Farmer Strength Gin as well as over 30 traditional made gin liqueurs.
Over the last 4 years they have worked hard to diversify the farm by renovating former milking byres to create the distillery, The Distillers Cottage self catering holiday let, and Steak & Still Farm Shop which sells naturally reared native wagyu beef, homegrown lamb, marinades, cheese and lots more local produce.
The McKerr family are passionate about connecting the consumer with food and drink production and open their farm gate to visitors who also want to source local produce and enjoy rural areas respectfully.
The Wee Farm Distillery has been nominated in the 2021 “Diversification Innovator (SMALL) of the Year Shortlist” by the British Farming Awards.
MacDuff 1890 sourced top quality produce from a small selection of farms whom which we have worked closely with for generations. Supplying tender, succulent and ready-to-cook beef, lamb and pork to high-end butchers and chefs in Scotland, England and further afield. To name one butcher in particular, MacDuff Butcher, our first ever butcher shop which we launched last month in Edinburgh.
Recently we have sourced the fantastic Easycare Salt Marsh Lambs for the first time. These lambs live out on the Wigtown links, Dumfries & Galloway, and have the most natural life, grazing the beautiful Salt Marsh grass. There is no intervention at all, other than a gentle walk into the paddock when the high tides are due.
Another unique product we have recently had in is Native Shetland Lambs, which have a protected designation of origin. All the lambs come from pure bred Shetland flocks raised on the isles.
Onto pigs – we regularly get rare breed pork in but most notably we recently had our first KuneKune pig arrive at MacDuff HQ. These pigs are slow-growing and take their time before getting saddled with piglets.
Lastly, we recently had a visit to Dunlouise farm who’s native Aberdeen Angus’ bull genetics trace back to 1968 and they are the only farm in the world to hold genetics for all 9 original Aberdeen Angus families. It took Geordie and Julia, of Dunlouise farm 12 years of persistent searching to finally acquire all 9 families left in existence. This rare and valuable breeding was almost completely extinct. We look very forward to getting some of these beautiful cows in the near future.
Sustainability and animal welfare is at the heart of all farmers we work with. We continue to work closely with a hand selected number of farms whom are either Pasture for Life certified or Soil Association certified. To name one we work with who is certified by both bodies is the fantastic Fife Dexters. As well as Robert’s Dexter cattle, we also get in their rare breed sheep including the Boreray (aka the Hebridean Blackface), Castlemilk Moorit and the Coloured Shetlands.
Last month, we opened up our first ever butcher shop MacDuff Butcher within the Bonnie and Wild market, St James Quarter, Edinburgh. Alongside our core beef and lamb range, plus our weekly speciality/rare breed products. We also source seasonal pasture-fed chicken and turkey from Herb Majesty Farm in Perthshire, wild game, hand crafted charcuterie, highland wagyu and vegan burgers made with locally sourced ingredients. We launched ‘The Butchers Cut’ experience last Wednesday with our neighbours Gannet East within the market, to offer customers the chance to come to us, choose from a beautiful selection of steaks we have on offer and have John, head chef of the Gannet, cook it up for you. This is a unique concept that has never been done in Scotland before using top quality, grass-fed meat.
Ross Neilson hails from a dairy farming background near Glasgow. His two younger brothers and father run the farm while Ross chose a career in renewable energy, and recently completed an MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School. The Neilson family started milking cows at Park Farm in 1965. Since then, three generations have developed the business, and What’s Fresh signifies the next step in promoting sustainable agriculture and showcasing local produce.
Consumed by 98% of households, milk is worth over £4.5bn in the UK, yet farmers are often paid less than the cost of production. The aim of What’s Fresh was to overcome this parity in pricing by retailing directly to consumers.
In March 2020, when the first Covid19 lockdown was announced, the business plan was quickly adapted to include a wider range of local producers. An online store was created and populated with fresh, local goods from several suppliers, delivered together in one drop.
With the success of this service, Ross is now looking to push ahead with the original plan; to process, bottle and deliver the farm’s milk as part of the offering.
Having secured start-up funding from the government’s FPMC grant scheme, as well as private investment, What’s Fresh is currently building a new processing facility on the farm. Fresh milk will be the product to drive the doorstep business and the new dairy building will allow on-farm processing and packaging, and act as a ‘hub’ to distribute orders. A ‘Just Eat’ style app will be developed to allow users to purchase goods from local suppliers; adding value for the customer, increasing collaboration, and enhancing the ‘support local’ ethos.
The renewed doorstep delivery service will initially cover South Lanarkshire and surrounding areas; with a population of over 1 million people within a 10-mile radius of Park Farm.
Business markets such as coffee shops, hotels and restaurants have also been identified as potential customers, who are increasingly looking for quality, single-source produce.
Ross hopes to fully launch the business in early 2022.
Old Mother Hunt Rum
Creating Our Own Future
In March 2020, my husband got made redundant as a pilot. There was no warning, no furlough, and no second chance… just redundancy. I wasn’t working at the time as his hectic schedule and lack of family nearby meant that childcare for our two young children was prohibitively expensive. Two weeks previously we had moved into a new house and over night we went from enjoying decorating to full on panic. We were both applying for every job going but with no success- the economy was crashing and it soon became painfully clear that we weren’t going to get a job. As well as the obvious financial impact, our mental well being took a battering. Matt had never been out of work before and I was shocked at the rapid decline in his resilience and general outlook on life. We both struggled to fight the rising hopelessness and keeping our children safe and protected from this reality was a huge motivator. I thought we’d done a fairly good job, until our little boy found a penny on the floor and gave it to me saying I could use it to help keep the house. My heart broke and swelled in equal measures.
We made a decision that night that we should dare to dream big and that maybe as we had no career or anything to lose, we should try to start our own business. We’d always talked about how great it would be to work together, to manage childcare together, and to organise our work around our family life but always after a glass, or two, of wine and never with any real conviction. We no longer had the luxury of day dreaming about it and we had to make a change in our lives or we would drown in our problems. We knew we had to create a pandemic proof venture and we were inspired by how creative the local craft spirit businesses had been throughout lockdown. The gin market is absolutely saturated and so we decided to try our hand with rum- it’s a fascinating spirit bursting full of flavours and I think people are ready for a change. We make our rum from scratch by ourselves which is unusual in the UK. Learning how to make rum has been the silver lining of a very difficult year as we both love it and we’re so lucky to have found a new passion.
It was an incredibly bumpy road just to get to launch day as neither of us had ever started or owned a company before, let alone dealt with the inner workings of Excise Trading, but it has been so rewarding to learn as we go and develop our knowledge and experience. We’re only at the beginning of our journey and I cannot wait to see how far we can go.
Born in Lockdown. Enjoyed in Freedom.
Hillhead of Covington
William and I moved to Hillhead of Covington in 1996 with the aim to start a dairy farming business. With both of us from farming backgrounds we knew the hard work and dedication required to run a dairy farm. William started with 50 cows and breed with these cows to build up the herd. The Covington herd of cows was established in 1997 and through learning and practice and advice from experts the herd now has 400 healthy cows. We have continued to invest in the facilities and environment for the cows to ensure their long life of health and happiness. The cows are milked 3 times every day and we continue to strive to manage these cows the best we can.
We have always drunk our own fresh milk and we love it! However when the milk is sold on and leaves the farm is goes through various processes which change the texture and taste of the milk and most milk that is available for shoppers no longer resembles the initial product. In more recent years milk has lost its popularity with milk alternatives stealing the limelight. We have put so many years of hard work, dedication and love into producing milk that we wanted to turn this around. Milk is such a highly nutritional natural product.
In 2020 we decided to invest in a batch pasteuriser and two milk vending machines. The milk can be pasteurised at lower temperatures so that the natural texture and taste of the milk is not spoiled. Pasteurising at higher temperatures is quicker but it changes the properties of the natural milk. We pasteurises a batch of milk straight from the cows every day. The milk is then chilled and transferred to the milk vending machines. Our milk is not homogenised, so the cream will rise to the top. Our Daisy milk vending machines are made in the UK and have the additional benefit of being able to mix and dispense milkshakes. Our milkshakes are mildly favoured as we didn’t want to overpower the milk with extras. Milk is the main event!
As farmers and carers for the environment we are all very away of the mountains of single use plastic used in milk retail so we have provided glass bottles with screw lids that can be purchased and reused over and over again by our customers.
Since we launched our Cows of Covington Milk and Milkshakes and opened our milk vending machines in February this year, we have been delighted with the response. It’s great to hear customers say ‘its milk just like it used to be’, that’s exactly what we were aiming to provide! It is also great to see so many young people appreciate milk and milkshakes.
Our milk vending machines are located In Brownlies of Biggar, 107 High Street Biggar ML12 6DL and at The Milk Hut at Tinto Hill Tearoom, Carlisle Road, Thankerton, ML12 6PD.
Langloch Farm at CCI
Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI), is a charity based at Langloch Farm just outside Lanark, supporting people who face barriers to inclusion, to make a contribution to their community.
We believe that individuals should be valued for their interests, abilities and contribution and not defined by their disabilities, illness or disadvantage.
Our award winning social enterprise empowers people to learn new skills, improve their health and wellbeing and most importantly to see themselves (and be seen by others) as active members of the community.
We do this through person-centred training and support in a range of vocational environments such as horticulture, conservation, woodworking, botanics, food growing and preparation, and cooking.
In addition, we also co-ordinate the Community Food Growing Network which supplies in-season, locally grown fruit and vegetables to the Clydesdale Food Bank.
Our onsite Tea Room and Gift Shop, “The Barn” showcases all of CCI’s social enterprise Woodcraft and Botanics products as well as our range of Langloch Farm Chutneys. Our Chutneys are created using local ingredients (many from our onsite growing areas) by the Food Group in our Community Kitchen. They also feature on our Tea Room menu!
In fact our homemade soups, sandwiches and array of homebaking, use local ingredients and produce grown on site at Langloch Farm wherever possible.
Our menu is set to expand further when our new Tea Room extension opens this Autumn, allowing us to introduce more people to our social enterprise. (All proceeds go straight back into the charity). We are open seven days a week from 9.15am to 4.45pm.
Jackton Distillery is home of award-winning craft spirits RAER Blended Scotch Whisky and RAER Jackton Gin. Our picturesque distillery is quietly nestled in the nook of rolling fields on the outskirts of East Kilbride in the Scottish Lowlands. Born from the dream of three generations, we began our pursuit of Single Malt Scotch Whisky perfection in 2020, laying down our first cask on the 12th of February. We are an exiting, new, independent craft distillery with big ambitions.
Our family run business has worked extensively to source the best casks from all over the world including the renowned Château de Chambord estate and the finest vineyards in France, Portugal, and the Madeira Islands as well as scouring America and Jamaica for those much-loved Bourbon and Rum finishes, along with sweet Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks from the subtropical Jerez region of Andalucía to offer our customers an unparalleled range of RAER craft spirits to enjoy. The spirit in our casks is beginning to soak in all the flavours from the oak that surrounds them and whilst we give our own casks time to mature, we have launched the award winning RAER Blended Scotch Whisky, which is rich, warm and alluring with hints of citrus and sweet caramel, delivering satisfaction from the first sip. An easy drinking spirit to enjoy neat, or the perfect base for your whisky cocktails. We highly recommend mixing with lemonade and fresh lime or ginger beer and cranberry – simply delicious!
Named after the village in which it is produced, RAER Jackton Gin is expertly handcrafted in small batches using nine carefully selected botanicals of the highest quality and pure Scottish water. Rich essential oils extracted from juniper berries during distillation form the earthy, piney base of our gin. A delicious combination of mango and sea buckthorn deliver a fruity, citrus tang, followed by warmth from the pink peppercorns creating a juniper led gin with a fine balance of pepper and fresh, fruity notes. It is best enjoyed poured over plenty of ice, topped with refreshingly light fizzy tonic water, garnished with a squeeze and slice of lemon. Our stylish bottle is sure to stand out in your drinks cabinet.
Jackton Distillery is still growing, and we are in the process of building our own on-site maltings facility, as well as bringing the production of neutral grain spirit in house. This month we are excited to be harvesting our very own barley and wheat and we are well on the way to providing you with a true grain to glass experience. Sustainability is of the utmost importance to us; we use recyclable packaging and continually take steps to be as eco-friendly a distillery as possible.
Our RAER team have great pride and passion for the spirits they create and are involved in every part of the process. We also take the hassle out of gift buying, as every bottle is hand wrapped in tissue paper, secured with natural raffia and given the RAER seal of approval before being sent off to its final destination. We are even offering 10% off all orders using promo code: fooddrinkfort at raer.co.uk from the 4th – 19th of September 2021, what better excuse to invite family and friends over to create some #RAERmoments and enjoy some delicious gin and whisky cocktails?
From our home to yours Slàinte mhath!