As we move into the second week of December we move on to featuring our second Earth Trust Farm Step Tennant, Cooper’s Oxford Pork, a small family business run by Mark, Jane and their two young daughters Rebecca and Chloe, with occasional help from friends and family.
Mark has a farming background as he used to keep Hereford cattle but in 2008 he decided to try keeping rare breed pigs. They began with just 5 pigs on their own pastureland and as they expanded to 150 including breeding boars and sows they moved on to the Earth Trust Farm. Mark and Jane focus on rearing Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, sometimes referred to as ‘The Plum Pudding’ or ‘Oxford Forest Pig’. It is one of the oldest traditional breeds in Britain dating back some 200 – 300 years. The breed has been near to extinction on several occasions and without a few dedicated breeders would have been lost altogether. The Oxford has a light to dark sand background with black blotches (not spots). It’s multi purpose producing succulent meat and excellent ham & bacon. They are hardy and docile making them an ideal outdoor and first time keepers pig. Mar
Mark and his family are committed to conserving this rare breed pig, ensuring that their quality of life is the best they can give them. Eating for conservation may seem a contradiction in terms but this is the only way to ensure this traditional British pig can survive. Mark is keen to continue to expand their business so that more people can experience their superior pork..
Their pigs are know as the ‘Suntrap Herd’ and are traditionally reared and free-range. The live outside in arks all year round with only the sows coming into the barn to give birth and tend to their piglets. It usually only takes a few weeks before mum and babies are ready to move outside. As with Emma’s lambs you’ll be able to pay the pigs a visit in March during the Earth Trust Lambing events.
The pigs are fed a diet based on natural ingredients with no added growth promoters and they often get treats in the form of fresh fruit and veg, including some of Cultivate’s left over stock.
Mark believes its the combination of their varied diet, the natural stress-free environment in which they are raised and the care in which they are handled that gives his pork such an excellent flavour.
We couldn’t do a campaign on festive feasts without including Mark’s produce. Rare breed pigs are slow growing, taking longer to mature and so produces pork and bacon which is of high quality and full of flavour, perfect for making your pigs in blankets or Christmas ham. Mark sells his produce a lots of local markets which you can find listed on his website, but you can also make direct orders via this form.