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Crackling Good Time in the Woodlands

By Pete Meadows  //  Wed 27th November 2019

The answer was not far away.  Fraser Aitken who already rents one of the Estate cottages has his own meat enterprise ‘Grassfruits’.  Grassfruits is a small business with an online farm shop striving to produce and source ecologically sustainable, healthy and nutritious pork and chicken.  Their animal welfare is of great importance and Fraser is working hard to produce the greatest possible alternative to factory produced meat in this outdoor environment.

Pigs are notoriously good at eating any vegetation and will not stop at Himalayan balsam, rooting up the plants completely to get to the delicious roots below the peaty soil.  Their actions help to eradicate the weed where usually heavy weed killer sprays would be used.

Charlie Forbes Adam says ‘We are delighted with the results achieved after only a year and we can already see a dramatic difference to the woodland floor. Himalayan Balsam and Bracken can soon get a determined foothold and repeated spraying or hours of hand pulling are the only way to reduce this.  The pigs have been very effective and we rather like the sight of these characterful pigs grazing in our woods, very much as they used to do centuries ago”.  

Fraser has a variety of pigs, including Saddleback and Gloucester Old Spot sows, which are slow growing breeds and they are thriving in their new environment.  Fraser has also reared several litters in the woodlands throughout the summer very successfully.

Fraser says “Our woodland pigs run free range through the forest on Escrick Park Estate. We manage the pigs alongside the forestry on the estate to assist with organic management of weeds in the forest. Himalayan Balsam and Bracken in particular.  The pigs are moved to a fresh piece of woodland every 7 to 28 days, depending on their size and the number of pigs in that particular paddock. This way the pigs aren't left in the same area long enough to damage the native vegetation and just long enough to stimulate the forest floor to encourage new growth. We believe in animals being kept in their natural environment and this really does produce the best and most tasty meat.”

Sales are also rather pleasing too for this delicious meat, as well as an established on-line business, Fraser now has his meat proudly listed on the menu of the Dorchester Hotel as well as another Michelin Star restaurant in London. That really confirms how tasty this woodland reared meat can be. To order on-line

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