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?