This Month’s Q&A is with Keith Gascoigne of Yorkshire Highlander
Keith how did you get involved in farming?
My father was a farmer and I just grew up helping my dad around the farm. When I got older I decided I wanted to make a career in farming and went to Askham Bryan College and then on to Bishop Burton College Centre of Vocational Excellence for Agriculture in Beverley. I know that studying at both colleges has been a big help in my career.
Did you then go back to your dad’s farm?
No, I started work with Unilever and then went on to work for Longley Farm (the people famous for their yogurts, butter and creams). I worked as a manager looking after their dairy herd and pig livestock.
So how did you start your own business?
I thought if I can do the job for somebody else I could do it for myself, so I managed to get enough finance to buy a smallholding, and it just went on from there.
I think your business model is a little different from what most lay people would think. Can you explain how it works?
Well, we place our cattle (and sheep) on land that is under stewardship of organisations that want and need to have their pastures grazed. These organisations may want to attract birds or grow wild orchards or other plants and without our cattle the land would just grow wild and would not be able to sustain the flora and fauna which is desired. Apart from keeping the grass at a certain height the cow dung forms the start of a food chain. The dung attracts insects which attract birds and so you get the right eco system. My bit is called conservation grazing. It is a sort of win-win situation for the organisations and myself, especially as the land does not have artificial fertiliser or insecticides used on them.
Where are these areas of land?
For fifteen years we had cattle on RSPB land such as Fairburn Ings and for a long time we have been at Bretton Hall Sculpture Park, where we supply beef and lamb to the YSP café. We are also at various sites under the stewardship of Natural England.
Why do you sell your produce at Farmers’ Markets?
Meeting our customers directly is always pleasant, and another big advantage is that we do not have to deal with super markets and can therefore by masters of our own destiny.
How many markets do you attend?
Once upon a time we use to do fourteen a month but we now do five a month. We decided that with markets (as with our beef) quality is better than quantity.
What are your best-selling lines?
In the cooler times of the year I would say that casserole beef and mince are what we sell most of, but in summer it has to be steaks.
In your spare time what other interests do you have?
I like showing my prize bulls and cows at shows such as the Great Yorkshire Show. Ian you had an article on your website about our Royal connection regarding one of my bulls. I suppose it is more than just an interest – I am really proud of my livestock. I used to like playing football and I played rugby union at college. Now I enjoy watching all kinds of sports.
What would be your super power be?
Being able to think on the hoof.
What is your favourite football team?
I think having highland cattle means I have a liking for Scottish championship side Cowdungbeef.
What would be your fantasy football team?
Here is my line-up (4-3-3): –
Andy Gor-am, Barry Horne, Bobby Moo-re, Terry Butcher, Barry Venison, Joachim Low (player-manager), Gordon Cow-ans, Jimmy Bullock, David Herd, Steve Bull, PAT Nevin. Sub – Fernando Torres.
What is your favourite film?
It has got to be Raging Bull.
Thank you Keith, see you on Saturday.
I know many of you will not have been able to sleep since my January editors puzzle.
To recap the puzzle was: –
There is only one London Underground station which does not contain any of the letters in the word MACKEREL. Can you work out which it is (without using the Internet)
The answer – is St Johns Wood.
Well done to anyone who got it – if you have just got it by reading this it does not count because you have just used the internet.
A big thank you is deserved to all our customers and stall holders who braved the horrible weather at our January market. We have had a word with the weather man, and you will be pleased to know that he has promised that this Saturday’s weather will be much improved.
I am sure that you are all delighted at how well the work is progressing at the clock, and we hope to be back home for the May market.
Meanwhile we hope you like our temporary home in Park Avenue where you will find all our regular stall holders and monthly guest stalls.
This is a video of Oakwood Farmers’ Market made by Harry Dobson for Made in Leeds.
This Month’s Q&A With Jim Hebden of Hebdens Seafood
Jim – When did you first become involved in the fishing industry?
My father was a fisherman and, when a berth became free on the boat he worked on, I joined that
crew. That was in 1958, I was seventeen. Before that I worked in a butchers shop, waiting for a fisherman’s job to become available.
Did you ever own your own boat?
Yes over the years we owned three boats. The first was small and then they got progressively bigger.
They were called Ocean Venture, Harvester and Ocean Venture 11.
How long did you work at sea?
In total 35 years. I guess over that time I had experience in nearly all types of fishing, including crabbing, long line fishing, dog and rock salmon fishing, prawn fishing and herring fishing.
How did you decide what to fish?
The seasons and the weather determine what is available.
How did you start doing farmers’ markets?
After giving up fishing, my wife Mary and I used to sell crabs at car boot sales. When farmers’ markets first started we gave it a go. As time when on there were more and more markets so we went to as many as possible. This meant that we had to rent our own premises to prepare the produce. We use about 100 crabs a week which we dress. The 100 crabs will make about thirty dressed crabs. We also sell large crabs whole. Mary makes the pate fresh for the markets to her own recipe.
What is your best-selling produce?
It is strange but that very much depends on which market we go to. At Oakwood it would be crab and white fish, at Otley we sell a great deal of mackerel and at Headingley the customers buy everything! We usually sell out there.
Jim, do you ever think of retiring?
Technically, I have retired! My son Richard took over the business five years ago. I just come along to help as I enjoy meeting the customers.
So what else do you do with your spare time – golf, knitting?
Golf! No, I can’t think of anything worse – waste of time! But knitting- not exactly, but I do teach one day a week at the fishing school in Whitby which includes showing students how to mend nets and make crab pots. I suppose that is a bit like knitting. It is good to pass on the skills I have learnt to the next generation and I enjoy working with young people.
I am also writing my autobiography because I have lived quite an unusual and varied life as a fisherman. It has been a time of great change and a lot of Whitby and the industry as I first knew it will not be seen again. I think it’s important to record that way of life and community.
You must have a lot of stories from that time at sea. Can you whet our appetite with one of them?
Sometimes we used to catch extra-large fish which would not fit in the boxes; we used to put them on shelves instead till we could do something with them. One day we caught an extra-large cod and when we got round to cleaning it we found a whole musical cassette in its stomach. A reporter from our local radio station got to hear about it and took the cassette home and discovered that it still played!
Was it Marillion with lead singer Fish?
No it wasn’t, but strangely one of the tracks was “I am a prisoner”
What is your Favourite type music?
Sole drum n bass.
What about a favourite TV character?
It would have to be Pike in Dad’s Army.
Suggestions for favourite book?
The Shellfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
Thank you Jim
There is only one London Underground station which does not contain any of the letters in the word MACKEREL. Can you work out which it is (without using the Internet – answer next month)?
Thanks to the hard work, tenacity and generosity of the shops, businesses, local organisations and residents, Oakwood Clock is to be renovated. The area surrounding the clock will also be redesigned and upgraded with new planters and paving. This work is anticipated to start in the next couple of weeks.
Whilst this is great news, it will mean that Oakwood Farmers’ Market will need to move to a temporary site whilst this work is carried out- starting with this month’s market.
With the co-operation of Roundhay Park and Leeds City Council we have agreed that for this temporary period the market will be sited in Park Avenue facing the field.
We expect the work to be completed in time for us to return to the Oakwood Clock site for the May market. We have always had such fantastic support from our customers and hope that you will help us through this short period away from home.
Please tell all your friends and neighbours of our new arrangements, and we look forward to seeing you in Park Avenue for the January market on Saturday 17th.
Not only will we have our usual wonderful regular stall holders and guest stall holders at the Christmas Market this Saturday 20th December, there will also be carol singing, face painting, mulled wine supplied by (Leeds Lions club), mince pies and a chance to buy the 2015 Friends of Roundhay Park Calendar .
To help you remember all the forthcoming market dates why not download a copy of our 2015 leaflet which not only gives you the dates for each market and informs you about the market ethos, but also is very attractive thanks to Toni Driver the local artist who kindly painted the picture.
You could always give a copy to a friend or neighbour or maybe take one into work.
Download a copy of the 2015 Farmers’ Market leaflet by clicking the picture or clicking here.