Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre

PRODUCER: Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre, Northumberland
PRODUCT: Grannies Piccalilli
REGION: North East 
CATEGORY: From the Earth (Artisan)

WHAT THEY DO

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preserving the Clydesdale heavy horse breed and sharing the story of these animals’ history. 

The family team behind the centre were inspired by the horses’ past in farming and food production and set out to produce a range of jams and pickles that could be sold to raise funds to help retain the breed and the old working practices associated with heavy horses. Team member Vivienne Cockburn explains, “In days gone by farm workers would take their pieces (sandwiches) to work, and these would be made up from jam or cheese and pickle. The phrase comes from the working horse, when they gave the animals ‘piece time’ to rest.”

Vivienne’s grandmother was approached to make a few products, so pickle and jams was a natural choice. “God bless her, she is 83 and didn’t stop at just a couple”, Vivienne says. “Her range is more than 20 products, all handmade by her to the highest standard, and at last count she has made over 6,000 jars.” All items, including Grannies Piccalilli, are additive-free and made with natural ingredients, with some grown by the family and friends. 

The money raised has enabled the family to develop the derelict farmyard into a dedicated centre for schools and groups of all ages to visit. A new venture, the Clyde Bus, has enabled the horses to be taken to elderly patrons who cannot visit the farm.

“Grannie has never been a horse person, but she most certainly deserves this award”, says Vivienne. “Not only is her produce of a high standard, but more importantly she has taken her family passion to her heart and the centre would not have been possible without her. The rest of us are allowed to do the packaging and promoting, but never are we to interfere with production.”

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

The North East panel were impressed with the background of the company, as a “wonderful window into our farming history”, and liked that local produce is used from as close to home as possible. Judge Annie Stirk commented, “This is a lovely story born out of a passion for these beautiful animals and the desire to raise money to secure their future”.

VISIT THE WEBSITE:  hayfarmheavies.co.uk

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