It’s fair to say the next few weeks will be rather busy for the Lewis family, as they showcase their new meat business at one of the biggest consumer food and drink shows in the UK – and move farm!
Earlier this year, Steve and Kara Lewis set up Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd at their smallholding near Wolfscastle. Their aim is to create a sustainable meat box business with the mantra ‘fresh is best’.
And later this week they will take a giant leap, by exhibiting at the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC in Birmingham (November 28 – December 1).
The couple met in 2003 and married in 2005. After several years working in the North of Scotland and Ceredigion they decided they wanted to settle down back in their home county.
However, as many will testify, starting out in farming has its challenges. But they were lucky to be taken on as tenants by Pembrokeshire County Council and moved to their 30-acre smallholding in 2012.
Says Steve, “If there wasn’t the opportunity to take on a council tenancy there was no other way we could have got into farming – we simply would not have had that chance.”
Shortly, the family will move up the council farm ladder to an 80-acre farm, from where they aim to grow their sustainable enterprise in both environmental and economic terms.
Orders are taken via www.pembrokeshirelamb.co.uk, and packaging contains as little plastic as possible – instead paper, cardboard and Woolcool™ are used to wrap and transport the fresh meat.
“We want to cut down on waste. Single joints of meat are not sustainable, but by selling boxes, we can cut down on waste, keep things as fresh as possible and we don’t have to carry lots of stock.
“We’re aiming to steer people towards ordering by a certain date so that we can batch orders and deliveries together to reduce food miles as much as possible. We can then hang the meat properly and deliver a fresh product on a defined date. It is a traditional process but mixed with a modern way of doing things.”
With five children ranging in age from 2 to 13 years, there are plenty of willing hands.
Says Steve, “This is 100 per cent a family business and the children are involved in different ways. They all help with lambing, some will help me with the ewes and others help Kara look after the pet lambs. Of course, there are elements of the business they cannot be involved with, but where they can help they will. It’s all part of the same cog.”
For their first event, Pembrokeshire Lamb is hitting the ground running by taking a stand at the BBC Good Food Show, which attracts thousands of visitors and top chefs, and features hundreds of food and drink producers.
But says Steve, they are not daunted by being novices at such a big event.
“The first time I showed sheep 20 years ago was at the Royal Welsh Show and I never regretted that. It has been a steep learning curve though, as Pembrokeshire Lamb is a new experience for us.
“At Birmingham, we’ll be launching our meat box subscription service which will be for our new Seasonal Boxes. These boxes could be wholly lamb, hogget or mutton or any combination, depending on what’s in season at the time. Each Seasonal Box will also come with a complimentary gift. However, the main aim of the show is to engage with people who care about what they eat and get our story across.”
The family has been prepared for their NEC debut by Cywain – a programme dedicated to developing new and existing micro-businesses and SMEs in the Welsh food and drink sector, focusing on maximising opportunities and growth potential.
Says Steve, “When we started we were farmers with an idea, now we have morphed into food producers. We are lucky to have had help from several people along the way, and Cywain has been a pool of knowledge and experience. They have all the right contacts and networks in the food and manufacturing supply sectors.”
Says Cywain Development Manager, Nerys Adams,”Over the past couple of months it’s been great to see Steve and Kara take full advantage of the various workshops available through Cywain.
“From Sales & Display to Digital Marketing to Finance, they’ve made the most of every opportunity and I’m excited to see how they will use these invaluable skills moving forward with their new venture – I’m sure they will make a great success of it for themselves and their family”.
Customers wanting to place meat box orders in time for Christmas had better get on the Pembrokeshire Lamb website soon as the last deliveries will be made on December 19th. For lamb boxes the order deadline is December 5th, and for mutton it is November 28th.