Sidbury farmer still 'living the dream' with passion for ethical farming

PUBLISHED: 12:01 26 November 2019

Ben Upchurch with his turkeys at Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4131. Picture: Terry Ife

Ben Upchurch with his turkeys at Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4131. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

A Sidbury farmer is celebrating five years of ethical farming as part of his aim to reconnect people with their food source.

Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4165. Picture: Terry IfePartridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4165. Picture: Terry Ife

Ben Upchurch, who owns Partridge Hill Farm in the Roncombe Valley near Sidbury, has made it his mission to rear animals and give them the best quality of life.

Mr Upchurch took the plunge to move from Exeter to set up his small scale operation in 2015.

Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4158. Picture: Terry IfePartridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4158. Picture: Terry Ife

Since launching the business, he now farms 75 acre of land and this year he has secured planning permission to build a new barn to assist in the rearing of turkeys and act as a workshop.

The 40-year-old studied agriculture at university. The course required he visit every type of farming system in the UK, which at times left him shocked.

Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4152. Picture: Terry IfePartridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4152. Picture: Terry Ife

Mr Upchurch, who is assisted by his dog Brock, said: "I decided I am going to rear animals so I know the province, what it eats, how much medical attention it's needed, what its lifestyle is, because you cannot get that information from butchers and supermarkets."

Mr Upchurch rears a number of traditional rare breeds including Berkshire pigs, Beulah and Badger Face sheep and Norfolk bronze and black turkeys.

Ben Upchurch with his turkeys at Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4146. Picture: Terry IfeBen Upchurch with his turkeys at Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4146. Picture: Terry Ife

The types of animal he has reared are slow growing, traditional to the UK, and are protected from other wild animals so they can live in their natural environment.

He added his unique selling point is enhanced by the local environment, including the 'good practices' of the abattoir run by John Coles.

Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4151. Picture: Terry IfePartridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4151. Picture: Terry Ife

He said: "I'm not looking to maximise my profit. My unique selling point is in providing a fulfilling happy place these animals can be really happy. They have so much space.

"A white pig in a factory is finished at three months. This group have nine months to a year. It allows them to reach their maturity.

Ben Upchurch with his turkeys at Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4141. Picture: Terry IfeBen Upchurch with his turkeys at Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4141. Picture: Terry Ife

"I am living my dream."

This year the farmer will be selling gammon, chipolatas, lamb and turkey locally.

Ben Upchurch with his turkeys at Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4137. Picture: Terry IfeBen Upchurch with his turkeys at Partridge Hill Farm. Ref shs 46 19TI 4137. Picture: Terry Ife

Visit http://partridgehill.co.uk/ to find out more.

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