Jon and Vikki Brown dreamt of leaving their London jobs and moving to the Cornish countryside. They moved back to Bocaddon, Vikki’s family’s dairy farm where she grew up. As on most dairy farms, bull calves born to their milking mothers are, unfortunately, a waste product, and are typically killed shortly after birth. Inspired by a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall book, which declared that veal could be reared ethically and really ought to have a comeback, the pair had a lightbulb moment and decided to focus on veal.
Knowing they had a battle on their hands due to veal’s questionable reputation, they were up for the challenge. In the early days at farmer’s markets, Jon explains that: ‘no exaggeration, one person in three that came anywhere near our stand would give us grief or at least question what we were doing’. He soon grasped that he didn’t want or need everyone in the world to be his customer. Before taking the business further he wrote to local chefs to find out if they’d be interested in buying the veal. Nathan Outlaw had just opened locally and agreed to buy their meat. ‘Having it on his menu was a Michelin- starred showcase for it only five miles from where the calves were reared
– it was a great help for the business.’
National TV coverage from Gordon Ramsay on The F Word also helped spread the message of ethical veal, and Jon believes that over the years, much of the battle has been won in terms of changing the image.
Ethical credentials aside, Jon believes veal is wonderful; lean, healthy and tender. Without wishing to blow his own trumpet, he would be surprised if there’s any veal better than theirs; chefs tell them it’s the best they can get. Coming at the venture from a food angle, as well as one of animal welfare, Jon explains that he and Vikki wanted to produce the best possible meat. Feeding their calves on a mixed diet including milk, providing straw bedding in the open air and careful butchery is key to their exceptional product. bocaddonfarmveal.com
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