TMC IN THE PRESS
We were delighted to be chosen as farm of the week in the recent 'Country Week' magazine of the Yorkshire Post - published 27th March 2021.
The article read as follows;
Native heritage breeds are the driving force behind John and Helen Bell's North Yorkshire farming and butchery enterprise.
Working over three sites, Tunstall Road Farm in Catterick and Manor Farm in Newton Le Willows and Tunstall Meat Company (TMC) butcher's shop in Richmond, the business has been a return to agriculture for Weardale born farmer's son John.
Following a career in the City and overseas which took him away from agriculture for many years, John said he always wanted to return to farming.
"One of the the things I had missed most was farming and the countryside. I grew up around native breeds. My dad had Mules that were put to a Suffolk tup on his mixed farm. I had always been interested in heritage breeds and had a hankering to get back to them when the time was right."
Manor Farm was bought in 2009 with Tunstall Road Farm added in 2013, running to 550 acres across the two farms. John said buying the second farm was a decisive move to grow their livestock enterprise the way he and Helen wanted.
"We bought Tunstall Road Farm by auction from North Yorkshire County Council and that allowed us to house the animals, expand our numbers and drive our livestock farming interests."
John and Helen said they found making a success of native breeds was by a 'field to fork' approach rather than selling through livestock markets.
"We found that 90 percent of the beef cattle being sold through livestock markets was Limousin cross cattle and we realised we could never compete on that level. so we decided to major in grass-reared native breeds, fantastic animal welfare, traceability and local.
"We also realised that if we were ever going to make a business model that worked, we had to go direct to the customer."
John said a friend, Robert Hendrix, steered them in the direction of opening the Richmond butcher's shop in 2018, where they now trade as TMC Butchers.
"Robert was executive head chef with Newcastle United Football Club for 10 years and had been looking for a new challenge."
"Helen and I hadn't known how to take our plans to the next level and he did, utilising the quality of the meat and it's traceability. Robert set up the shop and is now Director of our butchery side of the business, which has grown steadily through local trade but also online sales as customers have realised the better taste offered by heritage breeds."
John said the prospects for the future of the farm and the butchery business go hand in hand.
"When customers try our beef, lamb or pork they tell us the taste is amazing and keep coming back.
Everything is dictated by how fast we can grow, as we always want to be supplied by our own livestock.
There is such a demand for local produce, local delivery and provenance right now and we are really passionate about supporting people who want to shop local."
John oversees the farming operation with farm manager Sam Lumb, a farmer's son from Keighley and Assistant Farm Manager Megan Mulholland from South Africa.
John said the farm's focus is all about supplying the right stock, bred in the most natural way for the butchery.
"We started out small scale and we are still a relatively small livestock farm.
"It's all about doing everything right on the farm including improving our soil structure, using clover to fix nitrogen and increase protein, growing kale as winter forage for the cattle and the use of cover crops including spring barley to cut our feed costs."
Pedigree Belted Galloways and Herefords along with Hereford cross Friesians make up the suckler herd that runs to around 50 breeding cows and followers. John said that their aim is always to keep them our on grass as long as is it possible.
"It's Sam's decision when stock is ready and his judgement is based on ensuring we maintain the same level of consistency throughout.
"Our aim is to have the Herefords finished between 22-28 months and the Belties at around 30 months.
"The correct ageing assures that marbling and flavour."
In keeping with the Bell's farming ethos, John said they bull naturally rather than using AI.
"We buy bulls privately and produce all of our own pedigree replacements for the suckler herd.
"We are not aiming to produce the pedigree bulls to sell to other breeders, our focus is supplying TMC.
"Hampshire Down ewes are the preferred breed for lamb production with both a pedigree flock and a terminal flock where the Texels are put to a Hampshire Down tup.
Sam said the breed performs well off the farm's 260 acres of grassland and fit well with the farm's lambing programme.
"We lamb 35 - 40 of the pedigree ewes in December for the spring lamb market through the shop.
"The Hampshire Down lamb is renowned for being quick to suckle" he said.
John said the outdoor reared pedigree Berkshire pork is proving popular in the shop and Megan said she is particularly proud of the sow herd and the progress made at Tunstall Road Farm.
"We had four sows and a boar when I started. We now have 14 sows of which nine are pedigree Berkshires and as with the cattle and sheep, anything that is good enough for breeding is kept, otherwise it's all destined for the shop.
"We are very conscious of maintaining bloodlines in what is a rare breed and we have been partly responsible for the Freight Train bloodline rising from only four boars in the country to the 11 there are now.
"We're now one of the biggest pedigree breeders in the country."
By Chris Berry, Yorkshire Post
On the 1st May 2020 we were over the moon to be featured in our local newspaper the Darlington and Stockton Times.
By Ashley Barnard, 1st May 2020.
One thing that can be said for what was the Eating Out column is that the coronavirus outbreak has certainly forced us all to be more inventive when it comes to content.
The Barnard-Brown household hasn't actually had a takeaway meal yet, however it struck me that cooking some great local produce at home could also count as Eating In.
Living in Richmond, we are lucky to have plenty of superb independent producers and suppliers. There are three really good butchers, and we do actually use them all.
There's Angus Morton in Finkle Street, which does an excellent range of sausages and burgers; Hamilton's in Rosemary Lane, where we often get our beef brisket for a Sunday dinner; and the newer Tunstall Meat Company, in Reeth Road, which specialises in local lamb and beef.
Since the lockdown, we have been using our local suppliers as much as ever, and now get a fantastic box of fruit, salad and vegetables from Neeps and Tatties, based in Richmond Market Place.
We are also lucky to have Ken Warne for our groceries. Meynell's for pet supplies, and Edwina's when we need a good cake fix.
Easter weekend this year was never going to be the big family event we often have, but we still wanted a nice meal at home to make it special.
We decided to try a shoulder of lamb from Tunstall Meat Company, the shop being based just up the road from us.
We also stocked up on some sausages, burgers, and their fantastic lamb kofta for the freezer, which ended up getting eaten over Easter weekend too.
My husband James is the main chef in our house - I can cook but he really enjoys it whereas for me it's just another job in getting children fed - and he has mastered the perfect slow cooked beef brisket as his usual show-stopper meal. We decided to try and slow cook the lamb shoulder, with fresh rosemary and garlic thrown in for good measure.
Veg-wise we had such a fantastic array in our weekly box we were spoilt for choice. We had roast potatoes, mashed potato, carrot, spring cabbage, leeks, roast parsnips, Yorkshire puddings and gravy.
Yes that is quite a lot for two adults and an almost three year old, but we are always happy to have next day leftovers. Plus, Leo has hollow legs at the moment so keeping him fed is a constant challenge.
The lamb was delicious - so tender, melting off the bone and full of flavour. The little pockets of rosemary and garlic worked very well but really the was the star of the show on it's own.
Our vegetables were all beautifully fresh. I haven't had parsnips since Christmas, and these were so sweet and delicious, a real treat.
We all had clean plates at the end of our meal and we will definitely be trying lamb again over our usual beef.
As Easter weekend was such a sunny one, we had to get the barbecue. The rest of our Tunstall Meat Company haul of caramelised onion burgers, original pork sausages and lamb kofta went down extremely well.
The lamb kofta had been a favourite of ours since the butcher opened last year. They always seem to be made to order, and have just the right amount of spice and kick to them.
Our meat order of a shoulder of lamb, pack of eight beef burgers, six sausages, six lamb kofta and a shoulder of lamb cost £34. Our weekly fruit and veg box from Neeps and Tatties is £15.