The 3,500 acre organically farmed Knepp Castle Estate in Sussex exemplifies everything we believe in at Garlic Wood and we are thrilled to be able to offer beef and venison from Knepp through our online shop.
The production of meat on the Estate is inextricably tied up with the aims and goals of the Burrell family to ‘rewild’ the landscape. Beef and venison from Knepp is 100% pasture-fed, sustainable and produced in harmony with their vision of increasing biodiversity and bringing nature back to the farmed landscape.
It also tastes exceptional!
The heavy clay soil at Knepp is not conducive to modern intensive farming. For seventeen years after taking over the Estate from his grandparents in 1983, Charlie Burrell did his utmost to make Knepp Home Farm profitable but it was impossible to compete with larger, industrialised farms on better soils.
A moment of epiphany came in 2002 when Knepp received Countryside Stewardship funding to restore the Repton park in the middle of the Estate. The park restoration provided a chance to look at the land in an entirely different way and suggested the possibility of rolling out nature conservation across the whole Estate.
The kind of conservation Charlie had in mind was a ‘process-led’, non-goal-orientated project where, as far as possible, nature takes the driving seat – an approach that has come to be known as ‘rewilding’.
In December 2002, Charlie launched his vision for rewilding Knepp by sending a Letter of Intent to Natural England, the government’s advisory body for the environment, setting out his plans to establish ‘A Biodiverse Wilderness Area in the Low Weald of Sussex’.
It took years for the idea to be wholeheartedly supported by government but in 2010 the Knepp Wildland project received Higher Level Stewardship funding. It is now a leading light in the conservation movement, an experiment that has produced astonishing wildlife successes in a relatively short space of time and offers solutions for some of our most pressing problems – like soil restoration, flood mitigation, water and air purification, pollinating insects and carbon sequestration. Visited by numerous conservation organisations, including the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and the National Trust, as well as policy makers, farmers and landowners, Knepp is shaping the future of nature conservation.
As Professor Sir John Lawton, author of the 2010 Making Space for Nature report says:
“Knepp Estate is one of the most exciting wildlife conservation projects in the UK, and indeed in Europe. If we can bring back nature at this scale and pace just 16 miles from Gatwick airport we can do it anywhere. I’ve seen it. It’s truly wonderful, and it fills me with hope.”
GOOD FOR THE ANIMALS
Because they’re eating what nature intended them to eat, the animals at Knepp are happy and healthy. They have free range of 3,500 acres of re-wilded land, giving them a smorgasbord of organic herb-rich pasture, as well as bark and leaves to browse on – just as their ancestors would have done.
They have excellent immune systems, unlike animals reared in intensive systems. And they don’t have permanent indigestion because their stomachs are being asked to cope with food they were never designed to eat.
The longhorn cattle, Tamworth pigs, red and fallow deer run in natural herds of all ages and have free rein to wallow, play, crash through the scrub and generally behave as they would in the wild.
GOOD FOR THE PLANET
Permanent pasture is one of the most effective systems of carbon sequestration we have on the planet – greater even than rainforest.
A low density of free-roaming herbivores like the system at Knepp has a dynamic effect on the landscape. Their behaviour and different grazing techniques create a mosaic of habitats, from groves and thorny thickets to open grassland, reed-beds and water meadows, providing fantastic opportunities for wildlife. Since beginning this extensive grazing system at Knepp in 2001 numerous rare species of birds, bats and butterflies have begun to breed. By eating meat from the Knepp Wildland scheme you are contributing to nature conservation.
Because no inputs are used – no fertilisers or other chemicals, no high energy feeding systems, farm machinery or routine medication – the method of meat production at knepp is sustainable, low cost and very low carbon.
GOOD FOR US
The longhorn cattle at Knepp are fed an entirely natural pasture diet. Studies in the US and in the UK have found conclusive evidence that meat, fat and dairy products from animals that are fed the old way, on permanent pasture, are positively good for us because it is:
- Low in the saturated fats associated with heart attacks and strokes
- High in total omega-3 fatty acids, which feed the brain, and protect against heart and neurological diseases
- Presents omega-3 fatty acids in a balanced ratio with omega-6 fatty acids (unlike vegetable oils)
- High in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which fights cancer and diabetes, benefits the immune and inflammatory system, and reduces body fat and risk of heart attack
- High in beta carotene, vitamin E and the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin
- High in calcium, magnesium and potassium
The implications of these findings are enormous. We should not be cutting out animal fats from our diet, as almost all recent medical advice insists. We should simply be taking care that we’re eating a greater balance of pasture-fed meats.
Because they are free to browse and are ‘slow-grown’ – ie not fattened unnaturally fast on grain and protein – the meat from these animals is denser and richer, with that characteristic ‘marbling’ of fat which gives fantastic texture and taste.
Old English longhorns produce exceptional beef. In his ‘Perfection’ series of programmes for TV in 2013 chef Heston Blumenthal chose longhorn above all other traditional beef breeds as the best tasting steak in the world.
By working with the natural cycles of these wild-ranging animals lives and allowing the cattle a full spring and summer of pasture we are able to treat the Knepp beef as an exceptional seasonal product. As with all our beef we mature the longhorn on the bone in the traditional way – for 35 days – for extra tenderness and flavour.
Visit our online shop to buy Knepp beef.