Food producers: Wicks Manor pork
PUBLISHED: 11:38 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:20 20 February 2013
WHEN Fergus Howie returned from university in 1998 he went into partnership with his brother, Hamish, with just one ambition – to put his heart and soul into the family business at Wicks Manor in Tolleshunt Major.
It was not an easy road to take, particularly as Foot & Mouth was rife across the country and farming in the UK was taking a huge hit. But that was 11 years ago and today Fergus and Hamish oversee a sustainable pig farm with 200 of their own sows.
Each sow has on average of ten piglets each year, so we have around 2,000 young pigs on the farm to take care of at any time of the year, Fergus explains.
The pigs are hand-reared on the wheat and barley which is grown and milled on the farm while the animals live in open straw fields surrounded by straw baled from the fields. An abattoir literally a few miles down the road from the farm ensures that this is a very local operation.
An excellent life on the farm, followed by a short trip means the meat quality is fantastic, Fergus explains. The meat is brought back to Wicks Manors own licensed cutting plant, the only one in Essex, where it is butchered into hams, bacon, gammon and sausages as well as being jointed for sale.
The Fine Food Guild recently awarded the farms Olde English Pork Sausages and Dry Cured Smoked Back Bacon, Gold Awards and in May of this year The Pig & Poultry Awards, sponsored by Marks & Spencer, gave Wicks Manor the Bacon Producer of the Year and Sausage Producer of the Year titles.
Wicks Manor sausages are made from prime cuts of pork which ensures they dont shrink in the pan. Their most popular variety is the Olde English, however, if you fancy something different you could try the pork & apple, peppery pork or pork and leek varieties. With the festive season just around the corner, Wicks Manor is busy preparing smoked, unsmoked and honey roasted hams as well as streaky wrapped chipolatas. The bacon is dry cured by hand using oak and beech wood chips to give it a lovely aromatic flavour.
Fergus explains: We dont add fat or water, so theres no leakage in the pan. You just get that fantastic flavour how bacon and sausages used to be.
This year Wicks Manor also gained Safe and Local Supplier Approval which helps local producers to supply products to regional and national buyers. Essex schools, caterers, farm shops and supermarkets are already starting to stock fresh pork from this
fabulous local farm.
Get the taste
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