F: Can you tell us about field&flower?
JM. field&flower was founded on Home Farm in 2011 by myself and James flower (a fifth-generation beef farmer). Since those very early days on Home Farm, we have focused on supporting small-scale farmers, fishermen and artisan producers who prioritise animal-welfare and sustainability. We now deliver thousands of free-range meat and sustainable fish boxes across the UK each week but it wasn’t always that way. In 2011 we hand built our own premises, a friend taught us to butcher and we delivered orders in our cars. James and I pressed every burger and cut every steak for the first 3 years.
F. What made you decide to start the business together, and help people in going from field to fridge sustainably?
JM. James Flower and I met at agricultural college on our first day. We knew the high-quality beef being reared on James Flower’s family farm was being lost in the food chain, and we wanted to change this. Delivering our grass-fed beef directly to people’s homes was not just about convenience, it was about reconnecting our customers with small-scale British farmers. This led us to loaning a beef animal from James’s dad which yielded 30 beef boxes and we sold it to our friends and family. We found that particularly people living in cities didn’t have access to the farm gate. We created that connection between the farm and the front door for thousands of people. We even had people turning up at the farm unannounced saying they wanted to learn more.
F. What are your top tips for purchasing meat and fish in today's world? And can you explain what “sustainable and ethical meat” means to you?
JM. Focusing on quality is field&flower’s philosophy. When you buy meat and fish you have two choices (put very simply). Choose the lowest possible cost and the cut is unlikely to have been reared slowly, sustainably or with good animal welfare practices. Choose a cut with trusted provenance and you’ll get exactly what you pay for. A higher-quality cut of meat or fish that not only tastes better, it does better too, by supporting animal welfare and sustainable farming practices that are symbiotic with the natural environment.
Sustainability is an overused word. However, it carries real meaning when we look at farming. Farmers often consider themselves guardians of the countryside. They want to leave the pastures and soils in a better shape than it was handed them. Investing in British farming and the meat they produce means as a nation we’re investing back into our pastures and soils for future generations – that is true sustainability. Ethical meat means to consider whether it’s free-range or organic, high-welfare, from extensive systems that allow traditional breeds time to grow slowly. We do this very well in the UK. Asking questions on sustainability and the ethics behind meat is very important as access to cheaper imports becomes a real threat to British farming.
F. You often choose Falcon enamelware for your recipes. What’s your favourite product and what do you use it for?
JM. Yes, I’ve been using Falcon enamelware for many years now. The products are so distinct, durable and well-designed. A personal favourite of mine are the pie dishes. They’re great for oven cooking and serving sides in, I’ve even used them as a dog bowl for my Jack Russell, Arthur.
F. What will you be cooking from field&flower for Easter this year?
JM. We’ve recently launched some very exciting new products for Easter, so I’ll definitely be enjoying one of those. I think my personal favourite is our new Rack of Lamb, which you can buy as a set of two. If you interlock the two racks together you get something called a “lamb guard of honour” it makes a very eye-catching centrepiece and tastes delicious with a herb crust. Other cuts I’ll be ordering will include our hot smoked trout, pork breakfast patties and a sharing sirloin.
F. How have you been keeping during this time? Do you have any tips for small business owners?
JM. We’ve been fortunate and have grown to three times the size during the pandemic so that has kept everyone at field&flower busy. Running a business is a lot of hard work but made particularly difficult during a pandemic. The first thing I’d say is to look after yourself as it’s very hard to look after other people (and a business) otherwise. Ensure you spend time away from emails and Whatsapp at set times of the day. Eat well and exercise – nothing groundbreaking but doing the basics makes a big difference for me. The pandemic will bring change as we come out the other side of it so look for the opportunities.