Peter Gott has been rearing his wild boar and rare breed pigs, at Sillfield Farm, for almost 30 years. You'd say that it's relatively small, in comparison to the majority of farms, and he's scaled back production significantly since recently retiring from his regular stall at the Borough Market, in London.
He now rears just enough pork and wild boar, and a small herd of Herdwick sheep to supply his one remaining butchery outlet at Barrow Market's Meat and Fish Hall, plus a handful of discerning restaurant customers.
A long-time advocate for the Slow Food movement in the UK, he was the original founder of the Slow Food group in Cumbria, over 15 years ago. Slow Food has an ethos of supporting food production that is Good, Clean and Fair, and Peter's high welfare and non-intensive animal rearing methods are exactly that.
Intensive pig production (factory farming) would usually mean that a pig is reared to the required market size in around 14 to 16 weeks, Whereas, at Sillfield Farm, Peter's rare breed pigs would take around double that time and a good number of weeks more for his wild boar, which could be anything up to 52 weeks before being ready for market.
Rearing it Right
This slower method of rearing means that the pigs at Sillfield Farm, at least, get to live a slightly fuller life and not one that sees them cramped up in pens or cages, as is the case with factory farming methods. Peter's rare breed pigs have lots of room to move around and have the company of their siblings to socialise with.
Also, because they're reared more slowly and fed a good diet, this means that the flavour of the finished meat you'll experience is much better too, having had time to mature and develop more taste.
Award Winning and Famous
Peter recently won an award from the Countryside Alliance (2014) for his contribution to 'Food Farming and Education'. Often in the spotlight, Peter has been a judge for the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming awards, he's done many a demo and TV programme with a variety of celebrity chefs: Phil Vickery, Tom Parker Bowles, James Martin, and The Fabulous Baker Brothers, and he's also trained Jamie Oliver's 15 foundation for 10 years on butchery and sausage making. Quite a CV!!
Where to Buy Sillfield Farm Produce
If you'd like to try some of the Sillfield Farm produce, and I strongly urge that you do, you can buy it online, at his butchers shop at Barrow in Furness Market, or at one of the many farmers market Peter attends: Milnthorpe, Cumbria - Kendal, Cumbria - Lark Lane, Liverpool.
Personally, I love his dry cured and spruce smoked bacon, his pork chops and joints taste amazing, and his sausages are pretty darn good too. A particular speciality at Christmas time are his Wild Boar roasts, a delicious alternative to the usual favourites, so make a note in your food diary now and give some a try!