Today we have a story from one of our local food heroes. Denstone Hall Farm shop in Denstone, located between Uttoxeter and Ashbourne in Staffordshire has decided to show their customers how the traditional festive bird should be raised.
Customers visiting this Staffordshire farm shop will see a very different side to the nation’s favourite Christmas lunch following the arrival of a quartet of live turkeys.
The free-range festive foursome, named Len, Alesha, Craig and Bruno after the judges on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, have taken up residence at Denstone Hall Farm Shop and Cafe, in Main Road, Denstone, near Uttoxeter.
They were brought in by farm shop owners Rupert and Emma Evans to mark the launch of their Christmas turkey season, which has already begun with scores of customers already placing their orders.
But the couple expect the birds to become a hit with visitors, who will be able to take a look at the gobblers at close quarters and watch them as they grow over the coming weeks.
Rupert said: “Because turkey is predominantly a Christmas dish and people don’t eat turkey eggs, we’re not as familiar with turkeys as livestock in their own right as we are with chickens.
“In fact, the only time most people actually see a turkey is when they’re pulling it out of the oven at Christmas, so we wanted to give our customers the opportunity to see some live turkeys at close quarters.
“We decided to name them after the Strictly judges because the show mirrors our turkey trade – it gets really busy and builds up to a great crescendo before Christmas, but then finishes just before the big day itself.”
Len, Alesha, Craig and Bruno, who have been supplied by Rupert’s brother James Evans’ Pastures Poultry Farm in Northamptonshire – where Rupert grew up – have been made to feel at home inside a specially built pen, where they are able to peck at the straw and have room to stretch their legs and wings.
But there is no chance of them making a quickstep to avoid their traditional festive fate – instead of the paso doble it will still be Paxo at the double for the foursome on Christmas Day.
Rupert said: “We want to see an end to the anonymous supermarket bird and believe people should know where their food is coming from and how it is produced.
“Hopefully Len, Alesha, Bruno and Craig will create a lot of interest and our customers will learn a lot about turkeys. It’s true that they are not exactly the most attractive birds, nor the most intelligent, but they are fascinating creatures all the same.
“And, if we can pass on our annual message about only buying turkeys that have been raised in humane conditions and have enjoyed a natural upbringing, then so much the better.”
The farm shop saw a 40 per cent increase in sales of fresh turkeys last year and is expecting demand to be high this year too.
Denstone Hall Farm Shop is run by Rupert and Emma Evans; the business was established in 2007 and is located in the old milking parlour which has been lovingly restored. The shop offers a wide range of fresh, local produce for visitors to choose from, including its own home-reared beef, locally sourced lamb and pork, regional cheeses from the deli as well as a wide range of dairy products.
The farm was recently crowned Small Business of the Year at the Burton Mail Business Awards and received a Highly Commended in the Business of the Year category. It was also mentioned in the Independent newspaper’s Saturday Supplement’s Top 50 Farm Shops.
It won the Taste of Staffordshire Awards’ Tea Shop of the Year Award for three years running – rules barred it from entering this year – and it has also picked up a host of awards for the quality of its sausages and bacon.