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We are Mark and Sally Darley and, with our two children, farm in what is arguably the heart of Yorkshire.
Nova Scotia Farm, Thorner, North east of Leeds is situated on the cusp of the Pennines and the Vale of York . The under laying magnesium limestone was left by a glacial drift. This formed the Vale and makes the land very free draining. Indeed the same bedrock stone extends through and beyond York , in between the two is Tadcaster. A town famous for its traditional Yorkshire beers with three breweries located there. Not only does the magnesium limestone yield the purest water for brewing but also the sweetest grass for grazing too. Which we believe gives our beef a wonderful unique flavour. Some of the local beers were the obvious choice for inclusion in some of our recipes too.
As beef farmers, we have endured the turmoils of the British beef industry over the last two decades. During this time we bred and showed cattle receiving many supreme championship prizes at Christmas, prime-stock and summer shows.We also consistently received top prices at local auction marts.The cattle are run as a single suckler herd of Limousin sired cross breds. Some carrying selected British native blood too.These cows and heifers then run again with the Limousin bull of a different parentage. They are all grass fed and raised in family groups. We are not organic but are traditional in our principles and use no routine antibiotics. Mark would claim for various reasons his cattle are more organic than those being sold as so!!
With most of the factors that effected the industry and ultimately our business being totally beyond our control, we were keen to use our attention to detail and enthusiasm to diversify away from just the primary production of beef. For others to then add the Lions share of financial value, but in most cases lose the true value of provenance.
We developed a system to retail our beef via the internet. It would be true to say we were in the first few, if not the very first to do this nationally. This, along with our farming method, won the “Yorkshire Post Farm of the Year” award in 2001 . Mark subsequently was honoured to be invited on the panel of judges for the following three years.
As a result of the direct sales success we decided to open a retail butchers shop in partnership with a local butcher, who was currently doing our internet sales butchery.
We also began to promote our beef and the shop at various small food events.
It was here where we first developed our individual steak pie recipe. The idea was to enable potential customers to sample the quality of our beef ”not the pie”initially .The beef was on sale raw and displayed as fresh meat in a refrigerated counter.. Meat all does look the same when in vacuum packs! We quickly learnt to be very sceptical of “artisan” food producers that choose not offer samples.
The pies quickly out ran the fresh meat sales and so we began to tweak the pie recipe further. Unfortunately, the butchers shop partnership did not work out but the sale of pies are difficult to keep pace with demand.
We developed the pie pastry by making it as thin as possible. It is able to be frozen then re-heated. This adds to the customer convenience and enables you to stock up! This is now how the volume of our product is sold. Proudly our steak pies are readily purchased by this nation’s best beef producers and showmen at the premier agricultural events we attend..... They actively seek us out ...we know that speaks volumes!
As the next phase to our product development we introduced our “Dishes to Dine for” beef ready meals range. “As good as homemade” was our target and again made from the very best matured beef. “Internationally Yorkshire” being the tongue in cheek tag line - international recipes made from Yorkshire produce!
Additional to the “Dishes to Dine for” range we now have our steak puddings. These are based on the traditional English suet puddings. We have modernised them but without compromise and they are truly wonderful. Sales of these in certain parts of the country are extremely gratifying and building momentum.
We now increasingly find ourselves purchasing beef from other similar minded cattle producers, using similar production methods and rest assured providing us with a product just as good as our own. With a production cycle of around 24 months and limitations on land available. This is necessary to simply satisfy an ever expanding (no pun intended) band of pie and pudding connoisseurs. ( Weight watching see this)
If you attend any events we are exhibiting at please do call by and say “hello”! We like to meet new faces and regulars alike and you will be made most welcome. Our events team will always have a smile and a fresh sample or two available for you to try.We are proud to let the products do the talking.... “the proof is in the eating !” Any questions you may have on any aspect of all we do can be answered to the last detail. How long have you got ?
Please enjoy all our products with total piece of mind....we do !
Mark and Sally Darley