Episode 63 Mark Rogers
Twinways Orchard and Bees

I’ve waited a very long time to interview this weeks guest.  But patience paid off, and I’m utterly sure this programme will blow, or at least open your mind just a little bit more. 

It’s about those tiny little creatures without whom this podcast would not exist, in the sense that so much of the food and drink we eat is dependent on this insect’s ability to pollinate plants.  

Mark Rogers, owner of Twinways Orchard, has immersed himself in the world of bees for years. Whilst I knew bees were important, and I knew they were being threatened, for a very long time I’ve wanted to speak to an expert about what exactly is going on and why we should be concerned. 

Mark will reveal parts of bees lives that sound like they belong to science fiction – and yet they’re happening all around us, without us noticing.    

For instance, I thought being Queen Bee was a nice gig.  It turns out she’s not the boss at all but the hive’s egg slave, being herded around by her inferiors. 

And did you know that honeybees are greedy vandals?  Give them half a chance and they will rip a hole in the bottom of a flower to get to the nectar, leaving nothing for other types of insect whose tongues were designed specifically for that plant and will pollinate it properly.  

And we haven’t got onto the figure-of-eight dance that bees do, and the amazing things it tells other bees, or how long bees can survive in the post. 

When you listen, I hope you learn as much as I did, and I hope that you will never want to spray your roses, or any other plant, again. 

Episode 55 Jody Scheckter
F1 Champion and Laverstoke Park Farm

Two things come up regularly on the podcast.  Firstly, quite a few of my podcast guests have gone through significant career changes to become food, drink and hospitality entrepreneurs.  I’m thinking Rupert Holloway at Conker Gin, who gave up surveying to set up his own distillery, or Claire Burnet at Chococo who swapped marketing for freshly made chocolates.  

As the winner of the 1979 Formula One world championship this weeks guest, Jody Scheckter certainly knows a thing or two about a second career, and in fact even a third!

Secondly, obsession, maybe William Curley creating the very best chocolates or Jethro Tenant and his quest to make the best sea salt.  Jody certainly takes things to the extreme.  He started with such a simple idea.  How to provide the very best, tastiest, food for his family.  That simple seed of an idea has taken Jody on an incredible adventure, learning the most phenomenal amount about every stage of food production, from seed to plate.  In fact, before the seed, Jody and his team of chemists and biologists spent eight years just researching the soil!  As he says, everything we eat, that does not come from the sea, comes from the soil at some point.  So if you have an obsessive nature, are use to winning and always want the best, that is the natural place to start.

Nowadays, as the founder of Laverstoke Park Farm, Jody Scheckter is better known for his commitment to biodynamic and organic farming, and his herd of water buffalo, which provide the milk for award-winning mozzarella and ice cream. 

Laverstoke Park Farm has also diversified into hops and ale; sparkling wine and black pudding. While these products are varied, the vision underpinning them is always the same: to be the ‘best-tasting and healthiest, without compromise’.   

Show Notes: Episode 53 – Andrew Parry Norton & The New Forest Marque

Andrew has what he describes as a ‘bit of a love affair’ for his cows. An incredibly proud-to-be commoner living in one of the most beautiful spots in the UK – The New Forest. This week he teaches us not only a bit of geography on how the New Forest came, but how the animals contribute to keeping it healthy, suitable for the public to go and visit as well as a bit of history surrounding William the Conqueror and rights surround the commoner culture…

Andrew Parry Norton

Episode 53 Andrew Parry Norton
New Forest Commoner

I think it’s fair to say that, from a global perspective, we’re living through uncertain times. In particular I hope as a listener of this podcast you are asking questions about what to eat, where to purchase our food and how our food choices are impacting the environment and world around us.   

Whilst sometimes these are complicated questions, what’s been inspirational about many of the podcast conversations I’ve now had, is how – despite the politics and complexity – many food and drink producers are just getting on with it, and making a big difference to their local communities. As this weeks guest, Andrew Parry-Norton puts it, ‘What’s on your doorstep is the most important thing.  Once you get that right, it spreads from there’.  

Andrew’s lucky.  He happens to have the beautiful landscape of the New Forest literally, on his doorstep.  As a Commoner, as well as a farmer, his animals can truly range free, through heathland and ancient woods. (Sometimes they range a bit too freely, as you’ll hear!) 

In this programme we explore the peculiarities of Commoning history. We also discover how, and even more fascinatingly, why, we are seeing the return of regional native breeds such as Ruby Red cattle and Saddleback pigs, rather than the influx of larger continental breeds.  It makes good business and environmental sense, especially now that the Commoners have their own shared brand, the ‘New Forest Marque’.  In essence, to support a more artisan, kinder, traditional approach to farming, Andrew needs to charge around 10% more and supply more directly to the end consumer.   

Is this the way other regions could go?

Episode 48 James Mansfield
Field and Flower – grass fed meat by post

James Mansfield, is a master at learning on the job. When he and James Flower, a friend from agricultural college, decided to set up their meat box business, both of them had to perfect the art of butchery from a standing start. They also had to scale up their culinary skills very rapidly, so they could serve mouth-watering dishes to 2,000 VIP guests at Richard Branson’s V Festival.  

I was excited to chat to James since with alot of press recently about eating less meat for the sake of planet earth, I was intrigued to explore some issues around what good and bad practise looks like.  Is it a case of eating no meat, or eating better meat.  Caring more about animal welfare and recognising that how the animals we eat are cared for, what they eat and what drugs they take must surely be part of the informed conversation.  These could be tricky things to ask a butcher, but as expected James was engaging, knowledgeable and happy to educate. 

This willingness to jump in at the deep end and learn on the go partly explains why ‘field&flower’  is so successful today. It’s also because they’ve stuck to their principles: only supplying traditionally reared grass-fed beef, along with free range poultry, pork and lamb. It won’t surprise you to know that they’ve designed their own box packaging too, which is more environmentally friendly than the traditional poly box.  

As you’ll hear now, James’ hospitality career began in the same ‘nought-to-sixty’ vein, front of house at one of London’s most famous restaurants.