‘From field to fork…’ – a short while ago these were just words in the Farmers Weekly. Now they are a daily reality for us, Alan Teare (the Farmer) and Rachel Ranson (the Farmer’s Wife), of the Ballakelly Family Farm in Andreas. Here is our story so far:
After the sad loss of Billy Teare in early 2016, we found ourselves in charge of Ballakelly Farm, which has been farmed by our family for five generations.
With over 500 acres of grass and arable land, we finish almost 3,000 top quality livestock each year… But, after reviewing our costs and income, we quickly realised that we were losing money on a weekly basis. If things didn’t change financially, we would soon have to give up our family farm – and the home and livelihood that Alan has known and loved since his childhood.
After discussions with others in the ‘meat supply chain’, it became clear that, while there was money to be made from ‘Manx Meat’, Ballakelly was definitely at the losing end of the chain. And, we were easily replaced by cheap, low quality produce from outside the Isle of Man.
Determined to make our living from our farm, we concluded that to earn a fair reward and build a sustainable business we needed to take control of our meat and to sell directly to consumers and businesses.
So, in Spring this year, Alan went to live with a farming family in Wales where he learned how to manage the ‘whole meat chain’: farm, abattoir, butchers and shop. He returned with a fully-fuelled fire in his belly and our journey began: Ballakelly Farm was going to sell our 100% Manx Pork, Beef and Lamb to the public – for ourselves!
With encouragement from the Isle of Man Government, we have begun to build the Ballakelly Farm brand. Many people in the meat industry have warned us that it is hard work… to which Alan replies ‘feel free to come and try farming at Ballakelly!’
So far this year we have attended three key local events: The Southern Agricultural Show followed by the Royal Manx Agricultural Show – where we won ‘Best Livestock and Cropped Farm over 200 Acres’ and the ‘Best Small Producer Stand’. More recently, at the Isle of Man Food and Drink Festival, we won Second Place in the competition for the ‘Best Producer Stand’ – not bad for our first six months!
With each event our customer base has grown (both in size and in loyalty), and with the support of our ‘Meat Heroes’ – our family, friends, colleagues and customers – we have increased our confidence and capabilities.
Our popularity at these events proved to us that local consumers do seek out Manx Meat and that they are willing to pay a fair price for 100% Manx Pork, Beef and Lamb products which are high quality and traceable.
We are now building the foundations for the next stage of the Ballakelly Farm journey and hope to supply even more customers with the same quality meat that we are privileged to eat around our family dinner table.
The Ballakelly Family and Meat Heroes will be attending various local Christmas Fairs, so please come and find us. If you can’t wait to taste our delicious meats, you can contact us on:
Alan Teare – 07624 212332
Rachel Ranson – 07624 492899
This article appeared on page 18 in the December edition of Agri-Food news: