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Island Farming

“What you see is what you get,” says Paul, as he casts his eye over a verdant stretch of pasture, freckled with sturdy, russet-coloured cattle.

“The fields and the grass and the cattle…that’s it. Put them together and what you end up with is Tresco Beef that’s Tresco-bred and Tresco-fed.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Just a natural island cocktail of goodness that results in the finest beef in the South West. And simplicity does have a lot to do with it, of course, but tempered with a great deal of good farming and hard work.

The herd consists of more than 100 Limousin-cross cattle, with a mixture of Hereford, South Devon and North Devon to name but three.  There are about 160 acres of prime Tresco pasture for them to enjoy, with some highly-desirable views too! To ensure that the herd is entirely grass-fed, the farm produces its own silage and hay.

And there’s nothing like a bit of home-grown when it comes to grass and cattle. Grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3, B-vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin K, trace minerals and micro-nutrients than grain-fed beef. The result is outstanding beef, which is available almost exclusively on Tresco.

The quality of the steers and heifers was never in doubt on Tresco but 2012 saw the renown of Tresco Beef growing on the mainland.
“Last year was the first time that we sent our cattle to the Truro livestock market and we got the top prices every time,” explains Paul. “Just as pleasing have been all the compliments on the quality of our animals from the buyers, farmers and stockmen. It’s been great to have the recognition.” For Paul it is not just about the cattle; it’s about the land too.
“The farm is a fundamental part of the island. In keeping the cattle, we’re looking after the land, maintaining its fertility. There are pieces of land that have been out of cultivation for years that are being made use of again. Farming is also about stewardship, looking after what we have.”

Looking after what we have is part of Paul and Jake’s jobs, in particular the granite walls that run around so many of the fields and border the lanes. “The walls on Scilly are different to the traditional stone hedges that you’ll see in Cornwall; the base stones are dug in here – each island used to have its own style. Down at Gimbles you can see all the rounded beach stones have been used and I always like to use the decorative Cock and Hen top run.”

“I know it might not be the very best cut but I’m always happy to see a roast topside. It’s such a versatile meat, there’s so many cuts that cooked right are as delicious as sirloin… I love fillet but you can’t beat skirt of beef in a pasty!”

Tresco Beef is served in all our restaurants and can be bought at Tresco Stores too. However, with a herd of about 100 cattle, there is a limited supply. This means there are times when there simply isn’t any available.

Aficionados will be delighted to hear that at the Tresco & Bryher Food Festival in September, the New Inn will again be showcasing their special Tresco Beef Menu.

“Tresco cattle are of a quality rarely found. This can only be done by the skill and dedication of a true stockman. Paul Christopher is one of the top men I have ever come across.”

Philip Warren, Artisan Butcher

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