January 20th, 2022 Rooting for Real Farms

Rooting for Real Farms: Gill Meller and Harry Boglione

TV chef and award winning food writer Gill Meller and organic farmer Harry Boglione of Haye Farm, co-star in the first of our new ‘Rooting for Real Farms‘ video series. In these videos, top chefs team up with high welfare farmers, urging people to end factory farming by using the power of their purse to only buy from local, high welfare farms. Harry’s business, Haye Farm, was badly hit by the closure of Farmdrop, so please fill the gap by buying direct from Haye Farm online. Please support high welfare farmers like Harry by giving the video below a like and a share.

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Gill Meller

Chef, food writer, author, food stylist, and cookery teacher Gill Meller lives and works near the small fishing town of Lyme Regis in Dorset.

He is a fantastically talented, multi-tasking chef who doesn’t just work in a restaurant every day but through books, talks and interviews he educates people about the value of locally produced food from small diverse farms or from foraging wild plants in this age of monocultures and factory farming.

Gill was born in Dorset, close to where he now lives on the edge of an ancient wood looking over the sea. After a short spell at art school, and working in a number of small restaurants he teamed up with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for what became an 11-year collaboration which involved Gill writing two River Cottage Handbooks, Pigs and Pork and Outdoor Cooking, teaching cookery classes and eventually becoming head chef of the River Cottage restaurant.

Pigs & Pork gives expert advice to people who are thinking about keeping pigs, on where and how to buy them, how to house and feed them and eventually arrange their slaughter and butchering. There is a recipe section for classic roast pork, farmhouse pates, brawn, sausages, rillettes, pork pies, Scotch eggs and black pudding, as well as instructions for how to home-cure your own bacon, ham and salami.

Keeping a herd of pigs brings a lot of enjoyment – they are curious, intelligent and (often) lovable animals, with plenty of character. When the time comes, they can provide you with a fine carcass that can be turned into all manner of tasty things. By rearing and butchering your own pigs you’ll be able to create a full range of delicious pork products in the most sustainable, economical and hands-on way possible.

Cooking for our filming outside his house, Gill produced a noble toad-in-the-hole using pork sausages from Harry Boglione’s organic farm (see below) a few miles away and which was deeply flavoured with fragrant wood smoke from the brick and clay oven.

Praise for Gill’s 2016 bestseller Gather and the 2018 sequel Time, followed in 2020 by Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower was clamorous and he was credited with changing the way we think about food, bringing into much sharper focus the wild origin of foods that were once free, healthy and abundant and have now become industrialised, contaminated and processed in today’s dysfunctional food system.

Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower is a celebration of seasonal vegetables and fruit, and includes simple and quick vegetarian recipes.

Making small changes to the way we cook and eat can both lessen the impact we have on the environment and dramatically improve our health and wellbeing: good for us and for future generations to come. Making plants and vegetables the focus of your meals can improve your cooking exponentially – they provide a feast of flavours, colours and textures.

His ultimate comfort food dish? ‘Good question. It might have to be a proper fish pie the way my mum used to make it, with a mash potato topping, smoked haddock and boiled eggs – that’s hard to beat.’

Harry Boglione

Harry Boglione is a passionate advocate of Slow Food and sustainable living and the owner of the 90-acre Haye Farm set in the lovely scenic hills of East Devon, which he bought in 2014 after escaping London with his partner Emily, partly to avoid a possible career selling insurance. The farm is now totally organic and supplies and delivers beef, pork, lamb chicken and eggs ‘from our farm to your table’. We filmed there on a cold, autumn day when the Oxford Sandy and Black pigs were foraging happily in green fields, their feet in the mud and the warm autumn sunshine on their backs.

Harry and Emily believe the way to achieve sustainability is by ‘doing a bit of everything’.

Here at Haye Farm, our aim is to make a positive difference to the land. We see ourselves as custodians of this corner of East Devon, and so we farm in a way that increases biodiversity, nurtures the ecosystem that we’re part of and provides for future generations.

Their objective is to create sustainable food systems which encourage biodiversity and wildlife while nurturing and enriching soils. The crops and livestock all perform functions that are interconnected so that their rotation across the farm improves the soil with manure which is trodden in by the animals’ hooves, while the verges of the fields grow herbs and flowers that pigs have learnt to use for medication or to supply minerals and vitamins essential for their health.

Pigs are the ‘agitators’ in our regenerative system of farming. ..the way they disturb the ground provides opportunities for different insects and plants to gain a foothold.

Red ants might move in to build their hills on mounds of earth the pigs have created, for example, and grasses, herbs and wildflowers germinate in places where they’ve uprooted patches of gorse or bracken.

Being free-range, the pigs naturally get a lot of exercise and this, coupled with their forage-rich diet and the fact that we grow them slowly, gives their meat great texture, a good ratio of fat to muscle and, most importantly of all, a really good depth of flavour.

Harry believes that only a grass-roots change in the way we think about and buy food will change the present system of chemically dependent, intensive monocultures that since WW2 has come to dominate food production, a system that produces unhealthy food, causes antibiotic resistant diseases, abuses animals and destroys soil fertility.

If we can vote with our money, buying things that we believe are supporting the right kind of agriculture, demand will drive supply. If we don’t demand it, nothing is going to change and we’ll end up sterilizing the planet.

If you buy directly from a small independent farm you know you’re supporting a family and somebody who is trying to make a difference.

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