tucking in for charity

Greg Barrow with two of the Gloucester Old Spot pigs at the Little Pig Barn, Carlton, Wakefield.
Greg Barrow with two of the Gloucester Old Spot pigs at the Little Pig Barn, Carlton, Wakefield.
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IT must be a contender for smallest farm in Yorkshire, if not beyond, with its own shop.

The Little Pig Barn started with plasterer George Barrow renting a field from his mother-in-law, last July, to fulfil a lifelong ambition to get into farming – and to give his 19-year-old son, Greg, something to do, while job hunting.

They turned some old stables into pig sheds with paddocks, started buying in small batches of weaners of various traditional breeds, and crosses, and cadged imperfectly-shaped vegetables from a local grower and windfall apples from neighbouring gardens, to add to bought-in pig pellets.

By Christmas, they had a refrigerated shop approved by planners and set up in an old shipping container in the gateway to their rolling three-quarters of an acre in Carr Lane, Carlton, near Wakefield.

Their first six ready pigs – Old Spot/British Lop crosses – were transported by George to the nearest abattoir, M&C Meats at Crossgates, Leeds; brought back butchered; and sold during the first four days of opening of the shop, in time for Christmas.

Since February, the shop has been opening on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month and selling a couple more pigs each time.

The last two Old Spots are due to go over the counter on May 7 & 8, but half a dozen British Lops, Duroc/Hampshire crosses and Saddlebacks are coming up behind them.

Prices start at £100 for half a pig and £60 for a quarter – competitive with bigger rivals in the free-range rare-breed pork business. Small packs and cooked products, offal, trotters, bones, fat and suet, also available.

When the field is finally cleared, there might be room for another 20 pigs. Meanwhile, Greg is running some hens there and his mother, Susan, has 10 quail in the garden of their semi-detached home in Rothwell, and they all add free-range eggs to the appeal of the little shop. “I don’t suppose it has earned us more than pocket money so far,” says Greg, leaning on his gate like a professional.

“But I’ve tried stacking shelves at Asda and I’d rather be a farmer. And we all have to start somewhere don’t we?”

The Little Pig Barn pork shop is open 10-4 on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month.

Postcode is WF3 3RT. See www.porkshop.co.uk, email freshpork@porkshop.co.uk or call 07790 725531 for more details of directions, products and prices.