Jimmy Doherty, Suffolk farmer and retailer.

“Life is good”

We’re well and truly starting to warm up here on the farm. The Easter holidays are upon us, which is our first real chance to show off all the hard work of the last year. Investment in our infrastructure is ongoing and we’re always striving to improve the customer experience, recently refurbishing the outside area with new rustic brick paving outside our restaurant which will make it much easier in terms of access and give us a lovely new outdoor dining area for the summer months

Lambing has almost finished and we’ve had a whole host of new arrivals – both lambs and pigs! Daniele, our stockman, now has a new generation to add to the breeding programme which is a very pleasing result of all the planning and preparation work we put in. These will go to continue to serve our on-site butchery and add to the daily-changing home-grown menu in the restaurant.

Executive chef, Jon Gay served up some of this amazing produce at an exciting charity event at the end of March – the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation’s CEO Cookoff held at Old Billingsgate Market. It was an amazing event which raises money for the Food Foundation which provides food education schemes throughout the UK. UKHarvest was also supported as part of the event – they seek to save quality surplus food from going to landfill and redistributes it to people in need. Jon’s team consisted of him, sous chef Andrew Turnbull and and CEOs Philip Orwell (Venture Three) and Melissa Robertson (This is Now). Preparing his dish of Gloucester Old Spot, onions and trotter gravy in front of an audience including the Duchess of Cambridge, Jon and his chief executives helped raise over £500,000 and provided a fantastic platform to showcase our produce and his creativity.

Our zookeeper has welcomed more new arrivals! Hiccup and Bobo are two beautiful raccoons – a pair of sisters we’ve re-homed from a private collection. They are six months old and hand-reared due to their mother dying and will be a fantastic addition to the visitor experience. They will be available for our new Close Encounters products where visitors will be able to get up close and meet some of the zoo residents on special pre-booked visits.

A favourite with all visitors is the Butterfly House which is open again for the season. Preparation goes on for months with the planting of flowers suited to the species which will be making it their home. Visitors come from far afield to explore the tropical walk-through and it’s a really important part of our schools programme within our education offering.

Preparations are well underway in the butchery for Easter orders. Orders for cuts of spring lamb for the Easter Sunday roast are already coming in and will be winging their way around the country in time for delivery. The butchery is another area where experiential offerings will be available. Sausagemaking and butchery courses will be programmed of 2017 which will give people a chance to get behind the scenes and learn about our traditional rearing and butchering practices – all part of our mission to help people share the good life.

Life is good on the farm and we have so much more to share with you over the year – more improvements, our festival plans – it’s never ending and so exciting. See you next month.

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