David Wilkinson began pig farming many years ago and for over twenty five years has been raising his own breed of pigs. At the beginning pigs were grown for others to retail as pork.
When the Foot and Mouth epidemic struck life was difficult as the farming businesses were severely hit. Undaunted David started again but this time his business plan was to breed, grow on his own pigs and then retail the pork direct to the public.
The prime aims were to rear animals in a natural environment on a free range system where the pigs live happily, in natural surroundings all year round. These aims still are paramount in the farm side of the business. To these David and Debbie have added that they will only sell free range, naturally reared pork, freshly prepared for their customers each week.
The pigs live on a farm, based in the Wiltshire College Lackham Campus. The butchery is at Ashville Centre, Melksham, Wiltshire having relocated in February 2012 from Lacock.
The butchery has an average throughput of about two tonnes of pork each week for the markets and local supplies. The throughput increases greatly for special orders and events. When the carcasses arrive the butchers start work preparing joints and sausages are handmade, fresh faggots cooked, ham and bacon sliced – all packed and ready for delivery and the weekend markets.
Some products do take a little longer as hams need to be cured and some products like bacon smoked – all smoked products are smoked in-house using selected wood chips that enhance the flavour of the products rather than giving it a smoked taste.
The butchery/preparation operation is managed by Debbie ably assisted by Sylvia, Caren and Mike plus, of course, the hardworking butchers. While upstairs in the office Rhona looks after the administration, finance and paperwork.
At the present time Downland Produce attend Farmers Markets in London offering a huge range of fresh pork and other products, every weekend. If you cannot get to one of the London Markets just order online here, the quality is the same and it is delivered fresh to your door.
The old butchery in Lacock, Wiltshire was a converted poultry unit and although functional offered no scope for improvement or expansion so the new premises was found and fitted out to a modern standard. This gives the business the ability to expand in volume whilst maintaining the very high standard of produce. This has also allowed Downland to collaborate with another free range pig farmer in the marketing of his pork. Richard Windebank, a fourth generation farmer, who produces free range pork and shares the same ideals on welfare, nutrition and product quality making him an ideal supplier for Downland to meet the increasing demand for traceable prime pork.
Richard has 150 breeding sows plus their offspring which run around in the countryside leading a very healthy, natural life. The pigs are Duroc, Landrace and Pietrain cross which produce low fat, marbled pork full of natural flavour.
Downland Produce have a very high reputation their fresh meats and other products are bought by discerning hotels, restaurants and pubs both in London and locally. We have such confidence in our products that we employed a professional chef in a development role particularly for charcuterie and sausages. It was from this we started using home made stock instead of water in our suasages to give a greater depth of flavour.