Countryside Alliance President, Baroness Mallalieu QC, told a packed Awards reception at Parliament on 4th February 2015:
My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my honour to introduce the second annual Award given in the name of our friend, Clarissa Dickson Wright, who we lost almost a year ago. A longstanding judge in these Awards, she was a passionate defender of our farmers and producers, and she had given her blessing to this Award in her name before she died.
Together with her great friends Sally Merison and last year’s Award winner, Peter Gott of Sillfield Farm in Cumbria, we have chosen this year’s winner.
We have been mindful of what mattered most to Clarissa, namely a focus on strong animal husbandry, support for slow and artisan food and a platform for the efforts being made to foster our farming heritage through measures such as protecting rare breeds.
Clarissa also believed that since farmers and producers need to help the public connect with their food, we should honour them when they get it right. That campaigning side of her, keen to educate, inform and ignite a passion for food, was powerful and forms the heart of her legacy.
With this in mind, our winner’s philosophy fits the bill. They practice ‘sustainable self-reliance’ and their motto is ‘Love the land, love the animal, love their meat’.
Peelham Farm is located in Berwickshire, Southern Scotland. A family-run organic mixed farm, it is perched on the water-shed between the lower reaches of Whiteadder Water and the Eye Water, with panoramic views of the Tweed Valley and the North Sea.
Cattle and sheep are fully grass-reared. Free-range, rare-breed Tamworth pigs are mostly fed on home-grown crimped barley and beans.
Diversification includes direct selling of farm-reared meat and charcuterie to the end user, both retail and wholesale, from their own organically certified butchery unit.
As an integrated organic farm butcher business they have skilled-up staff to handle the rigorous quality assurance, animal welfare and transparency expectations of the organic system to produce quality products with trusted provenance.
Peelham Farm’s own “Meat Manifesto” is an initiative of which Clarissa would have approved enormously. A guarantee of quality the manifesto states that Peelham Farm produce “is good, clean and fair”. It goes on to explain what “good, clean and fair” means in husbandry, environmental and slow-reared taste terms, highlighting the fact that Peelham animals are able to express their natural foraging and grazing characteristics.
Education is a key part of the ethos and Peelham hosts several schools visits each year, working closely with the Royal Highland Education Trust and encouraging people to learn where their food comes from via butchery courses.
Organic charcuterie, including their own unique smoked mutton prosciutto, sees Peelham Farm leading the way in innovative artisan produce which in turn is supporting our farming heritage.
A proudly ethical approach also means veal is no longer off the menu: field-raised calves live free-range with their mothers for around nine months, producing a ruby veal that is both delicious and compassionate
Peelham also regularly have veterinary, agricultural and culinary skills students on work-placements with them, where they learn about all of aspects of farming and food production.
The 2015 Clarissa Dickson Wright Award winners have combined farming heritage, rare breeds and organic production into an enterprise that not only produces high quality food, but is environmentally sustainable and recognises that the key to the future of farming is educating consumers, not preaching at them.
Congratulations to Peelham on making the “Clarissa cut.” I invite Denise, Chris and Angus Walton and Chris’ father, Lord Walton, to come and receive this prestigious Award with the help of Clarissa’s friends Sally Merison and Peter Gott.
Pictured l-r Lord Walton of Detchant, Chris Walton, Environment Secretary Liz Truss MP, Denise Daly-Walton, Angus Walton, Peter Gott (the inaugural winner of this Award and part of the "Clarissa committee" to take our friend's legacy forward.)
Peelham Farm is run by Denise and Chris Walton and its address is Peelham Farm, Foulden, Berwickshire, TD15 1UG. www.peelham.co.uk/. Tel 01890 781328