Archive Article: 2000/03/31

31 March 2000

John Alpe

John Alpe farms with his

parents at New Laund Farm,

near Clitheroe in Lancashire.

Besides the tenanted 80ha

(200 acres) the family own

36ha (90 acres) and rent a

further 40ha (100 acres).

Stocking is 60 dairy cows

and 60 followers, 500

Swaledale and Mule ewes

and 250 store lambs

AS PART of the stewardship scheme we entered last October, we have just planted three of the five new hedgerows we intend to complete.

During this winter we have spent time double fencing sites in preparation to plant Hawthorn, Dog Rose, Hazel and Blackthorn saplings this month. I have never been to a nursery that specialised in trees before, and had no idea of the value involved.

The plants I purchased were 12 months old and about 26cm (12in) in height, varying from 9p to 14p each depending on variety. I also bought some slightly larger trees, such as Mountain Ash, Scotch Pine, Alder and Sycamore to plant around the farmstead.

At the nursery all plants ready for sale were tied up in bundles and standing in trenches with loose soil. It transpired, to my surprise, that the saplings had been grown in Holland, even though I had carefully sought out an English nursery. Unfortunately, I was not supporting English growers after all.

I bought over 1000 plants, which took up little space in the back of the Land Rover, but they did take a considerable amount of time to dig and plant. Next time I may be slightly less ambitious with the quantity, and more cautious with my spade.

In 1976, the year after I left school, my father bought a butchers shop. It was run in conjunction with the farm until the late 80s when my youngest brother, George, took it over, and still runs it now.

Latterly, due to problems faced by beef producers and dilemmas of the consumer, he decided to sell only local beef and instructed his wholesaler to supply beef produced only from the Ribble Valley.

To emphasise this, he displays individual carcass passports in the shop, relating to beef in the counter. This has became even more relevant recently, when we had a FABBL inspection to ensure traceability.

Traceability is a service individuals finance for supposed benefit of our customers. However, when I hear that a farmer-friend had been to the local supermarket to buy some beef and enquiring of its origins, found that no one in the store could give him an answer. I wonder where traceability has gone? &#42

Tracing his steps… John Alpe is not happy about traceability, which he says falls down when a supermarket cant identify where its beef comes from.

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