Trader Profile-West Country Water Buffalo
Over the summer we caught up with a few of the food producers from Somerset Farmers Markets. One of these was Jane, whose family-run farm looks after a herd of over 250 buffalo near the Village Of Chilthorne Domer in South Somerset. Jane told us all about the products made by West Country Water Buffalo (which include free-range buffalo meat, milk, cheese and even ice cream!), and the importance of small, family-run farms. Read on for a behind the scenes glimpse into life as a Somerset farmer.
Tell us a bit about you and your business.
West Country Water Buffalo is a small family business based just outside Yeovil, my husband bought our first 23 buffalo in 1996 with the intention of milking them and making cheese. Our plans changed and we started selling the meat at farmers markets and from the farm. We now have 270 buffalo; a mix of our Romanian and our dairy Italian herd, and we now sell our grass-fed meat, raw milk and ice cream. Soon we’ll be adding handmade mozzarella to the range as our son Jon expands the business further.
We have been so lucky to have some very loyal customers and to have won numerous awards for meat and ice cream. This year we won 2 stars at The Great Taste Awards for our milk.
Where do you get your inspiration – what motivates you to do what you do?
Consumer demand is constantly changing and we have always felt that farming has to respond to that demand. We are a small farm; too small for today’s market so we have to produce a niche product to survive. An open mind and enthusiasm are useful – we are always learning and our buffalo definitely keep us on our toes!
Our aim is to produce the best products that we can from our beautiful buffalo, and for our family to continue farming and caring for the countryside. There is so much more that we want to achieve to encourage wild life and biodiversity on the land that we farm.
Why did you choose to come and trade at the farmers market at the Frome Independent?
It’s a totally unique market with lovely customers, a unique day out and so many different stalls to see!
What do you like about market trading – why not just sell online or through retail outlets?
It’s great to get the chance to talk to our customers about our products and farming in general. People seem to be genuinely interested in farming and being able to talk to us directly – we all benefit from the discussion.
We do sell our milk online as the demand is nationwide, but we are selective about where and how our products are sold.
Tell us about your own favourite or best-selling product. How much work goes into creating it, why do you think this is your strongest product?
We feel it is important to use the whole of an animal and our butcher Barry has decades of experience – his faggots and burgers are legendary and demand can often exceed supply! All our meat is hung to mature ; our burgers are handmade and are sausages are hung to mature before being packaged, such is the attention to flavour.
We think that it is the grass fed animals and the thought and care that goes into their health, feed and housing that all make our products special. Water Buffalo are not the easiest animals to manage – they are intelligent, curious, individualistic, strong and can be very free range! It requires some exceptional staff to manage them.
What is your favourite Frome shop, or stall to visit at The Frome Independent?
How to choose? Impossible! There are too many.
And finally, some quick fire questions….
- Favourite book?
Just read Three Things about Elsie….thought provoking
- Describe your dream day off.
By the sea, no mobile phone and having time with all the family
- What are you listening to right now?
Radio 4 and Classic FM
- What are you cooking at the moment?
Always trying new recipes with buffalo, which are nice with a good red wine!
Thanks to Jane, West Country Water Buffalo! You can find West Country Water Buffalo, along with lots of Somerset Farmers Markets traders, next to the Boyles Cross on Sunday 6th October. Find out more about Somerset Markets