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A Family Affair

Dartmouth Food Festival’s start-up award is given to a new business each year – this year’s winner is Grove Meadows Family Butchers in Kingswear

Grove meadows family butchers

The Devon New Business Start-Up Award offers the winner a package of measures to help it promote and grow, as well as a pitch in a prominent position during the festival weekend.

This year’s winners, Tom & Shannon Burnell from Grove Meadows Family Butchers, describe their business.

Can you tell us about your background and how you came to be in farming?

“Tom grew up here on the family dairy farm in Kingswear – his family have farmed it since his great-grandad moved here from Somerset in the 1950s. I have a farming background too, as my grandparents were sheep farmers,” explains Shannon.

What does your business entail?

“We source meat from local farms, butcher it ourselves, then sell to local outlets. Our meat can be found in shops such as Kingswear Village Stores and Occombe Farm and we also offer a Click & Collect service directly from the farm.”

How would you describe your business in a nutshell?

“Local produce for local people.”

What were your biggest challenges in setting up the business, particularly in relation to your desire to be eco-friendly?

“Our biggest challenges have been the dramatic increase in prices, firstly due to Brexit, then Covid, and now the cost of living crisis. We aim to do our bit in being eco-friendly, however this is not straightforward as food safety and hygiene comes first. We have recently invested in compostable vacuum pouches, but when these are four times the price of the plastic ones and not as strong, it doesn’t make being eco-friendly easy!”

What’s the best part of your job?

“That’s easy. Seeing meat that has been farmed locally and butchered by us ending up on the shelves in local shops for local people to eat. That is what we set out to do. Also, when customers have specific requirements, such as certain meat for a dinner party or a big family roast, we can give them something tailor-made.”

And the worst part?

“The clean down – but it’s obviously a very important requirement, so we just blast the tunes out and get on with it.”

What are your future challenges?

“The cost of living crisis, plus the growing vegan movement.”

What are your thoughts on meat vs plant-based diets?

“We actually don’t think meat should be part of every meal. It’s all about balance – meat should be appreciated for what it is. We believe you should know where your food has come from and how it got there. When you live in this part of the world with so much production on your doorstep, why would you look at importing industrial-farmed foods (eg soybeans) rather than the essentials that are produced right here.”

And finally, what does winning this award mean?

“We are absolutely chuffed! It is a big thing for us – we are just two people who set up a small business alongside our normal jobs. This award has really made us feel like our hard work is beginning to pay off.”



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