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Reviving a local delicacy

Good news on the Shearling Meat initiative we announced in the Summer

Picture - Reviving a local delicacy

Scarborians committed to high quality, ethically produced local food have formed a buying group so they can obtain a neglected local delicacy - shearling meat from the North Yorkshire Moors. The Scarborough Shearling Community Supported Agriculture Partnership held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday 14th October. Meat deliveries to subscribers will commence at the end of this month.

Shearling is a male sheep, between 17 and 24 months of age, which is neither lamb nor mutton. Nearly two years of slow growth and living free on the varied plants of the North Yorkshire Moors, including bog myrtle, bilberries, heather and moorland grasses, gives this meat its distinctive flavour, which is very different to that of ordinary grass-fed animals.

Madeleine Parkyn, of Scarborough Local Food Group, says: "I was impressed with the depth of flavour of shearling meat when I first tasted it on a farm visit to Hill Top Farm, Spaunton, last spring;
but I was frustrated to find that you can only buy the meat as a whole shearling. I don't have a freezer big enough to take one! That's when I came up with the idea of setting up this CSA partnership. I'm delighted that it has now come to fruition."

Members of the Scarborough Shearling CSA will receive a monthly supply of locally grown heather-reared meat between October and May. Over the course of eight months, each member will receive the full range of cuts of meat that make up a complete shearling. For instance, one month it might be a leg of lamb, another month, mince and chops. By committing to buying a whole season's meat, members benefit from a good price and are also helping to provide a secure income for sheep farmers on the moors.

Community Supported Agriculture can be described as a relationship of mutual support between farmers and those who eat food they produce.

CSA schemes provide the farmers with a secure income and connect people with their food. They provide
access to high quality produce that people can trust, knowing that the animals they eat are humanely reared and slaughtered.

Nelly Trevelyan, of Hill Top Farm, Spaunton, who will be supplying her meat to the group, says: "Eating locally reared slow-grown meat is very good for the environment. Shearling is a low-carbon food because no fertilisers are added to the moors and because our sheep are not fed any concentrates. Instead, they graze on heather to produce nutritious food from land which is unsuitable for growing any other crops. Food miles are kept to a minimum because the sheep are born and slaughtered on the moors."

The Scarborough Shearling CSA will also be an opportunity to learn about new cuts of meat and new ways of cooking them. Each month, when people collect their meat from the pick-up point at Le Chat Noir cafe on Eastborough, members will have the opportunity to exchange recipes and cooking tips. The group will also be holding a Shearling Supper and going on farm visits.

Martin Haggerty, a subscriber to the Scarborough Shearling CSA, says: "This scheme is an ethically responsible means to obtain great tasting meat. It carries obvious benefits for the special landscape and ecology of the North Yorkshire Moors and the traditional upland farmers who make their livings there. The sheep from which the shearling meat is obtained enjoy the highest possible standard of welfare. Furthermore, there is a positive correlation between our gain as consumers in Scarborough and the prosperity of our nearby rural communities."

For full details, contact Madeleine Parkyn on 01723 375533 or email:
[email protected], or visit to find lots of information about the scheme.

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