OTB is delighted to welcome Coombe Farm to the OTB membership. The farm is nestled in the heart of Somerset and was established in the 1940s by Andrew Warren as a dairy farm and became Soil Association organic certified over 20 years ago. When Andrew passed away in 1986 the estate became the A H Warren Trust.
An organic commitment
In partnership with the well-established and successful organic dairy business, Coombe Farm Organic was launched in 2015 to make the most of what were by-products from the existing farming enterprise. The meat business works closely with Ryan, the farm manager, to produce award-winning beef, lamb and pork. They also partner with several other Soil Association certified farmers bringing ethically raised and humanely slaughtered meat of exceptional quality to customers all year round.
Certified organic for almost 20 years, they know by following the principles of organic farming they give their customers a guarantee that the ingredients have been farmed or reared in a natural way. They avoid environmentally damaging chemical fertilisers that compromise the soil’s wellbeing and instead strive to create healthy, fertile fields that promote biodiversity.
Animal welfare is at the heart of Coombe Farm too. Livestock is reared to the rigorous organic standards as set by the Soil Association which cover every aspect of an animal’s life, including living conditions, feed, use of medicines, transportation and slaughter. Ensuring animal welfare comes first is not just better for the livestock, it also creates an exceptional product for their customers.
Coombe Farm Organic – online shop
Coombe Farm Organic rear lamb, beef and pork to sell directly to customers on their website.
In conventional farming, cows are reared for either dairy or meat. With Coombe’s background as dairy farmers, they saw an opportunity to create a more sustainable practice. Male calves have no job in a dairy farm and are generally culled because pure-bred dairy calves don’t produce the best beef. To end this unnecessary waste, Coombe Farm cross breed their dairy cows with a beef bull so no calves are ever considered surplus. Shorthorn, Simmental and Limousin bulls are crossed with Holstein Friesian cows to produce stocky, muscular calves, perfect for their beef system.
All of Coombe Farm Organic’s lamb comes from their hardy flock of cross-bred sheep. The breeds they’ve chosen make the most of the abundant West Country pasture, thriving on a diet of grass as well as clover and herbs. Growing slowly, the lambs build heart immune systems and strong skeletons. All of this influences the way their meat tastes and cooks.
The favoured breed of pig is a Gloucester Old Spot x Saddleback cross. These are both native breeds that thrive in the conditions we have down in the West Country. They live outdoors all year, with access to pig arks so they can shelter from the rain and sun.
As well as their own livestock, Coombe Farm Organic sell poultry, venison, game and fish sourced from certified suppliers. Their poultry is reared in a free-range, organic environment and to the highest welfare standards. That means the birds have the freedom to roam outdoors during the day, with the shelter and safety of houses at night and in bad weather.
Roaming freely, scratching and foraging, chasing flies, taking dusts baths and basking in the sun are all natural behaviours. And being able to indulge natural behaviours is vital for happy, healthy chicken, ducks, geese and turkeys. Soil Association rules are stringent about the number of birds that live together, so all of their poultry comes from low-density flocks and they range on paddocks that are frequently rested, allowing vegetation to recover and preventing build-up of pests.
Venison, game and goat are all sourced from small local farms who are committed to farming sustainability and in harmony with nature. Their range of Sustainable Fish are either organically certified, reared in ChalkStream® rivers, or if caught at sea by British fishermen is ethically and sustainably sourced.
There’s pressure on farmers throughout the world to produce more, do it quickly and for less money. This inevitably has an impact on the quality of our soil, making it harder for future generations to achieve necessary yields. Coombe Farm Organic want to make sure that their land continues to be productive so they take a long-term approach to enriching the soil and giving back what they take out while producing top-quality, nutritious food.
To ensure that the farm has a sufficient crop yield without using pesticides or artificial fertilisers (a tricky process in the face of weed infestation) Coombe Farm needed an innovative solution, and they had one right on their doorstep. The dairy processing unit (managed by Yeo Valley) produces wastewater daily from its wash downs. So instead of tinkering the water off-site – causing a large carbon footprint, the water is re-used to fertilise the fields.
They also practice nose-to-tail butchery to make the most of every carcass and dramatically reduce waste, all whilst offering cuts that you may not see in your local butcher’s shop and will certainly never see in the supermarket. They also freeze their products at the point of butchery which helps with their waste mission, ensuring less popular cuts do not get thrown away and are held on to until a customer orders on the website. Energy-wise, the farm is 100% powered with renewable energy from solar panels in fields and building rooftops.