Holdstone Farm

Chris Lerwill is a fourth-generation farmer at Holdstone Farm, supplying Red Ruby Devon beef to their local food service company, and one of our brilliant supply partners, Philip Dennis.

We asked Chris, how did your family get into the business? “That’s a bit of a difficult one to answer because it’s about 800 years old” Chris jokes. “I would say it’s more generational, so for me to be in this business, it’s something that I don’t know any different. I have been doing this all of my life, I just get on and enjoy it”.

Chris enthusiastically tells us about the most rewarding aspects of the business for him: “making the decisions, making good impressions with the people I meet”, he pauses for a minute, “definitely seeing the product, when it comes off the other end, then we get to tell the world. I enjoy going to the shows or a cooking festival, its great seeing people’s reaction to not just the product but the full story of what we do”. Chris’ passion is clear when he tells us: “I really enjoy it”.

Alongside Chris’ historical ties to the farm and his genuine love for his work, he tells us the key parts of Holdstone Farm that differ from others: “our products are sustainable, local, it’s less than 10 miles to Philip Dennis”. Chris goes on to tell us how Holdstone Farm are determined to showcase their traditional Devonshire farm: “the time is right more so now than ever, with the positives of being local, the pressures against eating meat in general so if there is any reassurance to the customer about eating meat, this is the ideal time to show case what we do. Being able to do interviews like this one and communicate with customers is a key part of showing our process and we are proud of it”.

For Chris a marker of good quality is, “a local product, good eating qualities, provenance, and history is the main thing”. Alongside a long history, Holdstone Farm has never strayed from their environmental standards and support of local supply. Chris discloses: “we have always worked to keep food miles low but more so now than ever it is important to retain low miles when transporting the beef and making sure that we are working with other farmers as well as all the land around us. It is important for us that we are keeping our carbon footprint to the minimum, everything then is local”.

After being in the family business all his life Chris was the perfect person to ask if there was any seasonal advice he can pass on? Chris laughs, “to chefs I would say make sure you are ordering plenty of beef around Christmas! To farmers, keep it local, network within your local facilitation of abattoirs and markets, and look for business that’s outside of conventional supermarkets, look for the people who are prepared to pay for great quality product”. We asked what his top tip for a chef new to ordering meat is, Chris jokes, “buy Exmoor beef, it’s the best!” with a big grin on his face. His favourite meal? “Ribeye steak, yes” he confirms, “it’s the best with chips”. Could we have expected anything else?

From talking to Chris, it is clear Holdstone Farm is not only a business with a rich history and high-quality product but also is his passion. Chris leaves us with the words he lives by both in the field and away from the cows: “keep it legal, moral and ethical”.