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Supplier Stories: Farm Wilder

November 11, 2020

Want to know a little more about our new Eat Wilder Range? Of course you do. It’s been no mean feat getting to this point, let us tell you. But we’re happy to say this is a big step in the right direction when it comes to stamping out factory farming. This whole range has been carefully sourced from farms and trusts that put restoring biodiversity first - with no nutrients destroyed, no cooped-up animals and no unnecessary carbon emissions in sight.

We’ll tell you a bit more about our delicious Salami and Venison snacks soon, but first let's talk Steak Slices. We hope you’re hungry. 

 

 

Over the summer we visited Jonny and Rachael Rider’s farm in Devizes (socially distanced, of course). These guys are taking huge measures to ensure the beef they produce is grown in the highest welfare environment  - one that supports nature and the planet.

Their farm is part of Farm Wilder, an accreditation whose focus is on supporting sustainable agriculture and helping revive beautiful British wildlife. Farm Wilder works with farmers doing their best to work regeneratively, guiding them on their journey to restoring biodiversity that’s been rapidly dissipating over the past hundred years or so.

 

 

“Britain’s farmland has been used unsustainably for too many years. We’ve got to start supporting farmers who are working regeneratively, who are putting carbon back into the soil and bringing back wildlife.” - Tim Martin, founder of Farm Wilder.

Here at Ember we work with a number of Farm Wilder farms, sourcing organic, regeneratively farmed grass-fed beef for our Steak Slices. Because it’s better for the planet, and tastes incredible too. 

 

Back to Jonny’s farm...

Grass-fed

Jonny’s cattle are 100% pasture fed. Which basically just means the cows only munch grass, herbs, legumes and wildflowers. They are never fed grains, soya or anything they wouldn’t naturally eat. The cattle have an incredible effect on the carbon levels in the soil. As they graze, the roots die back and sink carbon into the soil. And thanks to their love of all-day grazing, soil carbon is building up on Jonny’s farm fast, while on other farms it’s being lost in the atmosphere. 

 

 

Not only does the cows’ diet impact soil health and carbon, it also has a massive impact on the quality of the beef that comes from them. Which is unsurprising, when you think about it. The reality is that meat from pasture-fed animals is just more nutritious, has far more health benefits and tastes so much better than anything you’d get from a factory farm. 

In fact, studies have shown that pasture-fed beef has less overall fat and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Not to mention heaps of essential vitamins E and A. Fancy learning a bit more about the health benefits of good meat? Right this way. 

We also recommend reading our dedicated guide on "How to make biltong".

Rotational Grazing

The cows on Jonny’s farm graze outside all year long (they don’t mind a bit of rain), and he uses a technique called rotational grazing. This essentially means the cows graze a small area of land for a short period of time before moving on. This allows the pasture to regrow, as short bursts of grazing have a shock effect on everything under the soil and helps the grass and wildflowers regenerate. Smart, eh?

 

 

“If we kept the cows in the same area all the time we’d probably grow a third of the grass we do now.” - Jonny Rider.

Rotational grazing has helped Jonny keep the soil healthy and fertile. Which means zero fertilisers or chemicals. 

We also recommend you check out the "What Is Biltong" guide

Wildlife and Biodiversity

On Jonny’s farm, it’s all about diversity. There’s a huge variety of plants there, so the soil is super fertile and healthy. Jonny knows soil health is key to keeping his cattle happily grazing - and maintaining the farm’s Organic certification. But it also has massive benefits for local wildlife. His farm is home to so many rare and wonderful species - ones that you’d never find on monoculture-based, intensive farms. 

 

 

“Wherever you look, there’s wildlife. They farm with nature, and that means lots of different species of plants, insects and birds.” - Tim Martin, Farm Wilder.

Jonny’s farm is particularly rich in butterflies, which have been declining at a rapid pace in the UK over the last 70 years. The super rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly can be seen flying all over the place, thanks to the careful way Jonny farms.

 

 

Jonny’s farm and Farm Wilder farms just like his are always thinking about the system as a whole, as well as the natural life cycle on their land. Their approach to farming is all about regeneration, which is essential for the future of our wildlife - and the future of our planet. By making better choices about the meat we eat, we can go even further towards finally ending factory farming and falling in love with real food again. That’s what Ember Biltong is here for. 

Next Article: An interview with Philip Lymbery

 


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