Prince Charles visits Jimmy’s Farm near Ipswich to see rare breed work
- Credit: Gregg Brown
The Prince of Wales has visited Jimmy’s Farm in Suffolk to learn about the “vital” work going on there to preserve rare breeds of livestock.
Arriving by helicopter, the Royal guest was greeted by Jimmy Doherty, his wife Michaela and their daughters, Molly Rose, six, Cora Mae, four, and 18-month-old Neve.
Prince Charles went to the farm, in Wherstead, just outside of Ipswich, on June 5 in his capacity as Patron of The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), of which Jimmy was made president last year.
Jimmy’s Farm prides itself on its production of rare-breed meat, including the Saddleback, Gloucester Old Spot and Middle Whites pigs, and Riggit Galloway and Highlands Red Poll cattle, which are butchered and sold on-site.
Speaking to this newspaper, Jimmy said: “We are in the niche side of animal production and we like the diversity.
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“Diversity is the spice of life, it would be a boring world if everything was the same. I think the rare breeds give uniqueness to the different foods.
“That’s what I love when you go to an agricultural show, seeing all the different breeds, and that’s something we as a nation should be proud of.
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“We have a lot of different breeds of pig, cattle and sheep and we should celebrate that diversity.
“I would really love to make these breeds more and more relevant to the general public and put it on their menu at least once a week or just as something special because there’s a story behind all these breeds.
“I also want to see them more in butcheries and restaurants.
“These animals will truly have a place in our farming landscape if we can create more of a market for them.”
Prince Charles was shown the domestic and exotic animals kept at Jimmy’s Farm, and met nearly all of the staff and volunteers.
Head gardener Chrissy Court said it was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
She added: “I knew there was going to be a VIP visitor so we have been trying to get everything perfect.
“Then more recently we were told who it was and we would be doing a meet-and-greet, so it was quite exciting.
“It’s been a mad dash getting everything looking as good as it can against the elements.
“It’s been a really good experience.”
Reception and Year 2 children from Ipswich High School for Girls were on an educational trip to the farm and Prince Charles stopped to say hello.
Hannah Stalker, junior school secretary, said: “It was brilliant.
“Prince Charles spoke to the girls and was really interested in their day and they told him all about their activities.”
His arrival was a surprise for the public visiting Jimmy’s Farm.
People gathered to take photos and catch a glimpse of the Prince, with one young girl running up to give him a hug while he was shown Jimmy’s collection of Polish Chickens.
At the end of his tour, Prince Charles was handed two gift hampers of local produce by Jimmy’s daughters.
Gail Sprake, chairman of the board of trustees for the RBST and a Suffolk farmer, said the work Jimmy was doing with breeding and maintaining rare pigs and cattle was “not just important but vital”.
She added: “We want to have none of our livestock classified as rare, we want to have all of them breeding viable populations, but we need everyone’s help with that. What Jimmy is doing here is finding a market for them.”
Reflecting on the Royal visit, Jimmy said: “It was brilliant, much more than I expected.
“With all the preparation involved to make such a visit happen, it was so relaxed and so informal. It was amazing.”
Jimmy and Michaela took on the farm, off Pannington Hall Lane, in 2002 and turned it into a rare breed piggery. The start of their journey formed part of a BBC documentary series called Jimmy’s Farm.
Since then the business has grown significantly, and Jimmy has plans for further development in the future.
This winter he is set to open an under-cover bird aviary, and later hopes to expand the farm park and get more involved in conservation projects.
During the tour, Jimmy told Prince Charles: “Farming goes hand in hand with conservation.”
Jimmy also appears on Channel 4 with childhood friend Jamie Oliver as part of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast.