Situated on the northern fringes of Dartmoor, Lovaton Farm, run by Jane Barber, husband Simon Kemp and son Callum, is producing award-winning meat.
“It started in 1999 with a pig called Penny,” explains Jane. “We used her to clear the overgrown garden when we came to the farm, and it progressed naturally from there.” What followed was a lot more pigs, the undertaking of a butchery course by Jane and the installation of a cold room. Before they knew it, Lovaton Farm became a fully equipped and capable producer of highly sought-after meats.
Their offering has since expanded and now includes beef, lamb, pork and, more recently, apple juice made using fruit from the orchards on site. Since 2006, Lovaton Farm has won 81 awards and counting, including 23 Great Taste Awards, 50 Taste of the West awards and eight Food and Drink Devon awards.
Their produce can bought via the Lovaton Farm website, in local shops around Okehampton or from the farm itself. Their beef comes from Dexter cattle crossed with Devon Ruby Red, resulting in marbled, succulent meat. Their Gloucester Old Spot pork produces fantastic crackling and their Lleyn lambs are raised from birth on grass/clover/herb swards to ensure great taste. Meat boxes containing a selection of meats and cuts are particularly popular.
The secret to their great products, Jane says, is the effort they make in caring for their livestock “from conception to consumption”. So, too, is their holistic approach to the farm. “We rotate the land, so it’s never exhausted by one type of livestock or forage. Animals graze on grass, clover and herb swards and stubble turnips. We also have 20 acres of arable land, which we rotate between the grass, clover and stubble turnips.” She continues, “We try to minimise the number of applications we use and stick to a simple rotation to keep the soil and, by extension, animals healthy.”
It appears the management of their farm and the land has not gone unnoticed. “We have been working with FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) and Natural England to apply for a Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship agreement,” explains Jane. “An inspection left them impressed and, as a result, we have been asked to host a farm walk to demonstrate how you can integrate sheep into a sustainable farming model.” Thankfully, they have gained hosting experience from their recent farm walk for the West Country Lleyn Sheep Breeders Club, who were also keen to visit.
Hosting farm walks isn’t the only thing keeping Lovaton Farm busy. The family has been running a B&B since 2000, managing a 5-star holiday let and, starting this year, have opened a campsite where campers can buy farm produce including their award-winning apple juice.
In the future, Jane hopes to host educational visits for local schoolchildren and is beginning to take trickier parts of the farm out of production in order to rewild them; something Jane feels could make the school visits even more appealing. This includes plans to plant 4000 trees over the next few years.
Lovaton Farm has been a member of Cornish Mutual for 10 years. Jane says: “They cover the farm, including the butchery, holiday let and B&B, and we have been incredibly happy with their service.”