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Great Beef from Great Berwick

Straight from Shropshire

A Shropshire farmer who became fed up with the supermarket’s stronghold on local producers is successfully rearing some of the best beef in the world.

cow-borgSam Barker, at Great Berwick Organics, is selling Longhorn Beef, to top end restaurants in Shropshire and neighbouring counties. He tired of supplying produce to supermarkets during the mid-2000s and decided to diversify.

Sam says: “My grandfather, John Barker, started farming at Great Berwick in 1949. He bred pedigree pigs and milked Friesian cows. My father, Stephen, and I started organic farming in 1998 and then ceased organic milk production in 2004, mainly because we were frustrated by the constraints of the price-fixing supermarkets. After that day I made it my mission to produce the very best beef in the UK.”

He choose Longhorn Beef and his choice was vindicated when uber-chef Heston Blumenthal filmed a programme in 2006 called Search For Perfection. Blumenthal decided that Longhorn produced the best meat of any cattle breed.

In more recent times, Great Berwick Organics has supplied numerous top end restaurants through Dukeshill, in addition to supplying directly to Ludlow’s former Michelin-starred restaurant La Becasse and Shrewsbury’s fast-rising The Silverton.

Sam’s calves graze herb-rich meadows beside the River Severn and mature slowly and naturally on a purely organic grass and clover diet.

“They live a relaxed, lazy and stress-free life,” says Sam.

Sam has his own cold room, where he hangs carcasses on the bone and allows them to mature for up to five weeks. He says: “Our philosophy is that cows should eat what they’re designed to eat and that’s grass.

“They are dispatched at a small organic abattoir at Bishop’s Castle. The sides of beef then return to us. The forequarter is hung for 21 days – the industry standard is 7 days – and the hindquarter gets 35 days – the industry standard 21 days. This gives us complete control and results in beef with a wonderfully, buttery, nutty taste.”

borg-beefDoug Blackmore, at The Silverton, in Shrewsbury, says the beef is stunning. He says: “We use a variety of cuts, from those that are most expensive to others that cost much less. The flavour of the beef is absolutely exquisite and unsurprisingly it is very popular with our customers.”

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