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Howard Blackwell

Blackwells Farm Produce, Herons Farm, Essex

Howard Blackwell’s love of poultry and producing 5,500 free-range bronze turkeys for Christmas shoppers extended to a want to supply wholesale rare breed meat to London restaurants.

In 2004, the family opened its sister company The Rare Breed Meat Company before later launching its on-site farm shop in 2008.

The company has provided a complimentary outlet to sales, with the two businesses enabling the team to increase sales and expand the poultry business to about 7,500 birds in and around London, while continuing to provide high-end birds at Christmas – this year including 2,000 goslings.

90 per cent of the rare breed produce is locally sourced, from at most a 20-mile radius of the farm. The couple source from local farmers they know and trust for their good husbandry skills.

“We decided to diversify to keep the farm running and also to make the most of the space we have,” explains H

“Producing a good quality local meat is our passion.”


The family has recently diversified outside of London and is now supplying a lot of local restaurants, helping the upkeep of the local community. The farm shop has its own kitchen, and makes homemade pies, breads and cakes, and is now on the look-out for an opportunity to build an on-site café, where their produce can be eaten.

Passing on the message of traceability and provenance is key to the business.

Howard says: “People want to know where their meat comes from, whether it is free-range and what type of meat it is. We can tell them that.

“Diversification into the farm shop has helped us connect with our customers, get our message about quality across and increase direct sales.”