Baddinsgill is a 4,000 acre category 3 hill farm owned by the Marshall family. It lies at an elevation of 1,000-2,000ft above sea level. The majority of the land is heather moorland, with only 80 acres of inbye fields. We have a closed flock of 1,400 Black Face sheep split into 5 hefts, so only incorporate home-bred female replacement stock.
Josephine joined us as our shepherd three years ago, straight out of veterinary school.
The Meat Boxes
Cash flow and varying sales values were frequently points of difficultly when managing the farm. We were also concerned about the industry-wide problem of a disconnect between consumers and farmers. We wanted to develop a more reliable income stream for the farm and at the same time educate consumers about the true value of meat and build a relationship of trust.
Josie and the Marshall family set up a Meat Box business selling Baddinsgill Lamb directly to customers. This business is now over 20 months old and has achieved over £21,000 of sales. It is currently operating at 23% profit, while also providing the farm with a consistent income stream.
All the lamb is slaughtered and butchered within 40 miles of the hill on which it was born. We have a ‘no polystyrene’ policy so our meat boxes are insulated with sheep’s wool, supplied by a company called Woolcool. We can courier our boxes anywhere on the UK mainland, but the vast majority are collected directly from the farm, giving us a chance to meet our customers face-to-face.
Reaching the Masses
The meat box business is run in conjunction with a strong social media presence on Facebook and Instagram. We present a real view of life on the farm and educate our thousands of followers on the joys, difficulties and practicalities of farming in the Pentland Hills. Our posts regularly have a reach of 10,000-60,000 people. We want to lead by example and to be open and transparent about how lamb is produced so that consumers attribute real value to the meat they eat and trust the farmers that produce it for them. Our eventual goal is to ensure that every sheep produces a lamb and that we sell all of our lamb as a premium product to engaged and informed customers.
We also encourage public access and welcome many hundreds of walkers, cyclists and horse riders to our hillside every year.
Climate change is generating headlines across the world, and farming is constantly highlighted as one of the main contributors. We want to challenge the generalisation that all farming has a negative impact on the environment. Our hefted way of farming has remained essentially unchanged for hundreds of years and has minimal negative impact on the surrounding environment. In fact, hill farming generally has a positive effect on the environment: protecting carbon stocks in soil and vegetation, reducing flood risk, preventing and controlling wild fires, improving water quality, and maintaining habitats and wildlife species.