Nigel Eggins, of Ashleigh Barton, Tamerton Foliot, in the Tamar Valley, is one of our biggest suppliers of lamb and beef. The Tamar Valley used to be famous for its soft fruit and vegetable growing and the farm benefits from a mild, sheltered microclimate.
Nigel’s father moved to Ashleigh Barton in the mid fifties, the same time my father took on the tenancy at Riverford. As well as farming his own 180 hectares, Nigel also runs Tory MP/Ecologist magazine proprietor, Zac Goldsmith’s farm, further north near Tavistock. As well as his own flock of 380 Suffolk X Mule ewes, Nigel follows the age old farming practice of buying ‘store lambs’ from more inhospitable farms, where the growing season is just too short to allow a ewe to get in condition prior to lambing and the lamb to grow to its required finished weight. On his lowland farm Nigel can fatten them through the autumn and early winter on grass and silage: a far more sustainable option for year round lamb supply than the forced, early season Dorset lambs. To spread his eggs, Nigel also runs a herd of 55 South Devon cattle. Like most of our beef and lamb suppliers, Nigel doesn’t buy in grain or soya protein.