Since 2007, Luke Hasell has continued his family’s 100 years of farming, raising pigs and cattle to organic standards at Heron’s Green Farm in Chew Valley, Somerset. He believes that feeding his pigs a varied diet with plenty of outdoor space for rooting and grazing is key to the best quality meat that’s tastier and healthier to eat.
Luke’s aim is to follow the ‘Field to Fork’ principle where consumers buy direct from the farmer, allowing the farmer much more of the purchase price and giving the consumer confidence in the provenance of the meat.
“This has been my lifelong home and place of harmony. I feel so lucky to be able to live in the Chew Valley, grateful in the knowledge that the farm is also producing nourishing food, jobs that people love and improving wildlife and biodiversity in the land that surrounds us.”
In 2009 a group of local people joined Luke and Phil Haughton, founder of the Bristol-based organic food hub, Better Food Company, with the aim to create a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project on Luke’s family land. The vision was a collective of open farms, producing local food, involving local people working on the farms and receiving produce in exchange, while caring for the natural world, an antidote to the harmful industrialised, global food system.
“In the beginning we had a blank field – no tracks, no trees, no irrigation, no polytunnels or built structures and about 7 staff. The field team took their breaks under a tarpaulin, admin was done from a cabin two miles away, and boxes were packed in a dark, old warehouse down the road.”
“Since then, we have developed the site, built the team (now around 100 paid staff), learned about the land, expanded the box scheme, opened several stores each with their own café and deli and created a very special place where over a thousand people each year enjoy learning and working on the land.”
“By rearing healthy, contented animals on a natural pasture based diet, we are able to build organic matter in the soil, improving the soil health and sequestering carbon back into the ground.”
Paul Askew is Chef Patron and Head Chef at The Art School Restaurant, now in its 9th year of business and a landmark venue on the growing list of fine restaurants in Liverpool.
Born in Sunderland, Paul and his family moved to the Wirral when he was 4, at 11 to Dubai, and then to Singapore where his fascination with food and cooking began to develop. At 18 his family returned to London and, after a spell as a kitchen porter, he enrolled in a cookery school to learn some of the basics behind the scenes at a restaurant.
In 1987 Paul moved to New York where he worked for a company that owned a chain of outdoor restaurants where the staff had to adapt to covers that ranged from sit down dinners for up to 500 people to a private event for 12.
After the family moved back to England, Paul was Head Chef at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool for 7 years. Then in 2014 he opened the Art School Restaurant which focuses on seasonal produce and local ingredients and was listed in The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants in the UK for 2017.
In 2017 Paul released his first book, ‘Onwards and Upwards‘, part autobiography part cookbook, in which he relates his early years in the industry and the experiences that shaped him along with 40 of his favourite recipes from the Art School Restaurant.
One of Paul’s local suppliers is Wirral Watercress run by his friend Peter Jones. Their baby courgetti flowers, crisply fried in a light tempura batter, are a staple feature on The Art School’s spring and summer menus.
“It’s one of those ingredients which defines a season. As soon as Peter sends in the first crop of the season, we all get excited about how best we can incorporate into our menus. That fresh, crisp peppery flavour makes it one of the ultimate ingredients for so many dishes, to elevate the flavours and add a whole new dimension to many dishes – from soups, to pesto and right through to my Menai Mackerel dish.”
Last year Paul opened his second Liverpool restaurant Barnacle, named after his father, which sets out to explore Liverpool’s culinary heritage through historic recipes which have found their way to the port city from around the world over the years.
Paul says: “My dad was Captain Barnacle Bill Askew and he sailed the world on the Blue Star lines – it was his travels which inspired me when I was young for our project now.”
“I think of barnacles on the hulls of the great ships which once sailed to and from Liverpool and brought beef from Argentina, apples from upstate New York, lamb from New Zealand and wines from France – all of this knowledge ended up back here in Liverpool.”
“We are aiming to tell the story of the city’s food and cultural odyssey through its maritime history which has shaped it into the glorious place we know today.”
“It’s a lovely story to tell, when you think of the impact that the sea has had on Liverpool. And I think this is a story that really needs telling.”
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