Why Chris is a rare breed
Like the Oxford, Sandy, Black and British Saddleback pigs that he keeps on his 420 acre family farm at Kirkby Malham, Chris Wildman is a rare breed.
He butchers his own meat, runs butchery courses, sells his own meat and those of other farmers, runs Town End Farm Shop and Tearoom at Airton, and is passionate about being as green as possible from the packaging he uses to the construction methods used for his building projects to sourcing supplies for the farm shop as locally as possible.
He is helped by his son and father-in-law who do much of the farming. They have native breed cattle, sheep, pigs and a few hens.
He sells beef including Longhorns (a breed local to the Skipton area) and other native breeds. He also sells lamb, pork and poultry from the farm.
“The way I see it is that Yorkshire farmers have a fantastic product but they don’t always appreciate how to market it. That’s where the farm shop and our online operation can help them to sustain their businesses,” he says
Sustainability and its commercial benefits
Sustainability – with an entrepreneur’s eye on its commercial benefits – is what Chris is all about. Online orders are dispatched in boxes made from recycled cardboard that use sheep’s wool as packaging. “The wool is all sourced, washed and carded in Yorkshire and is a brilliant alternative to polystyrene,” says Chris.
Cleverly, Chris also incentivises customers to send it back to him by offering a credit against their next order. “It’s win-win because it recycles the wool and it’s good business sense for both me and my customers.”
New build and sustainability
Chris also followed a sustainable approach in constructing a butchery and curing rooms for bacon and gammon, not to mention his famous Yorkshire chorizo sausage, in his farmyard.
The building uses earthwool insulation made from recycled bottles and grey water from the roof is collected in a tank and used to supply the toilet cisterns.
Provenance and produce
The farm shop has enabled Chris to indulge in his passion for selling local produce with known provenance. There is Ribblesdale goat’s cheese, Wensleydale and Coverdale cheese from Hawes, Swaledale cheese from Richmond and Dale End Cheddar from Botton, near Whitby. Beer is from Hetton a few miles away, Skipton and Ilkley, cider from Steeton and milk from Grassington, while smoked meat, bacon and fish come from Blubberhouses. Other Yorkshire products include gin, sloe gin, wine, liqueurs, honey (some made from borage), rapeseed oil, mayonnaise, cream crackers and even peanut butter. Coffee is from beans roasted at East Rounton, near York.
The shop also stocks Pipers Crisps, which although they come from North Lincolnshire, are on the shelves because one of the flavours is based on Chris’s Yorkshire chorizo.
The tearoom has also given Chris the opportunity to offer customers a real “field to plate” experience. Casseroles often feature beef or lamb from flocks you can see out of the window. His own pigs supply bacon, chorizo, ham and sausages, while pate, scones, cakes and quiches are made on the premises.
Apart from local food, the shop showcases and sells scarves, throws and blankets made in Sedbergh from sheep’s wool from Malham and nearby Otterburn. Whole fleeces are sold from flocks. The tearoom is also a gallery for works from local artists including Beverley Hicks from Airton.
In his latest green move, he is welcoming cyclists who are test driving tandems sold by a specialist business based at Gargrave. The tearoom is a convenient six mile ride away, just the place to stop for a drink and a think.
Looking ahead, Chris is considering putting photo voltaic panels in a south-facing roof over the shop and possibly installing a wood pellet boiler.
Chris’s green credentials, energy, flair and commercial success may make him a rare breed but, in his case, it seems, a sustainable one.
For further information, contact Chris Wildman on 01729 830902 or visit www.townendfarmshop.co.uk
Twitter @TownEndAirton or @cwildman