A family owned and run multiple award winning farm shop based in St Mellons,Cardiff. Provenance is key as to who we are.
There’s nothing morose about the team at the Moody Sow Farm Shop. A year after opening the business - and two months after joining the Q Guild - the Welsh farm shop lost no time in making its mark and being crowned barbecue steak champion in the finals of the guild’s 2014 Barbecue Contest.
It was the shop’s first ever foray into the meat trade competition arena, and since then the butchery and farm shop based on the family run Cefn Mably Farm Park has gone on to scoop 1 and 2 star Great Taste awards in 2014/15/16 and to date have won over 30 awards for our products.
The enterprise was the brainchild of fourth generation farmer Rhys Edwards. It evolved as part of the redevelopment of the popular farm park, opened over 20 years ago, where families can meet and interact with farm animals.
Shop Manager Anthony Tilbury, brother-in-law of Rhys, said: “At the turn of the 1900s Rhys’ great-great-great grandfather and his brother were a farmer and butcher team called the Gerrishs, with shops in both Rumney and Cardiff Market. Back then they could tell you what breed, how long the meat had been aged and know the farmers by name. In keeping with this tradition Rhys decided to do it all again, showcasing the best artisan food and drink that Wales and the surrounding area has to offer.”
It took two years to complete the 2,000 sq. ft. purpose-built shop, with the family carrying out the majority of the construction work, and Anthony admits that his arm was gently twisted to join the farm, where his wife Tina already looked after the animal husbandry side of things.
The shop initially opened with Anthony and butcher Christian Regan, who cut his teeth and learned his trade at Cardiff Market, behind the counter. The shop now employs 5 full time staff.
Eight family members are involved in the business, adding up to a team of nearly 30, which also includes the farm park and cafe.
“In the early days the product range was mostly bought in with the butchery being the exception,” explained Anthony. “We had to learn how to make the sausages and cure our own bacon and we now make all our own pies, sausage rolls, pasties, Scotch pie and Scotch eggs.
“Our pork is raised on the site and the pigs range free in the woodland, the Hereford beef coming from a local farmer friend of ours just a mile away from the shop. Longhorn is bought from another family friend in Raglan, around 25 miles from the shop. We already farm 90 acres that supports the feeding of the animals in the farm by way of two cuts of haylage per year and extra grazing. Rhys has just taken on another 100 acres by the shop that will allow us to start our own herd of beef sucklers and increase the sheep flock.
“All the meat is hung in the traditional way to give extra tenderness and flavour and we hang our beef on the bone for at least 21 days. Complete tractability and high welfare standards are key to our approach in sourcing the best meat that money can buy and our customers can have total confidence in knowing where our meat comes from.”
Success quickly followed when the shop entered 12 products into the Great Taste awards and won two silvers for its black pudding Scotch eggs and beef burgers and two bronze medals for Scotch eggs and smoked bacon.
Now attracting around 100,000 visitors per year, the farm park supplies the shop with plenty of passing trade on the tourist front, and the business is actively seeking local customers who will treat it like their local high street shop.
Anthony said that guild membership and the resulting success in the barbecue competition had really helped raise the profile and boosted sales of sirloin steak. Featuring finalists from seven regions of the Q Guild, the red-hot contest was held at the Weber Grill Academy in Oxford and the winners were selected by a panel of judges included celebrated barbecue chef Jeremy Fowler, former executive chef to the Sultan of Brunei and personal chef to Mohammed el Fayed.
“It is a real achievement to be accepted by the guild and being a member is already proving invaluable, as we are able to see what other Q Guild butchers across the nation are doing to improve their businesses and also tap into expert help and advice. We are learning a great deal,” said Anthony.
“The barbecue competition was our first, and for a new business that was just over a year old at the time it was a fantastic result and we are over the moon. This has given us a real taste for meat trade competitions and we will be going all out to wine more accolades for our products.”
The team is currently developing an extended sausage range and will soon be spicing them up with chillies being grown on the farm.
“We are all passionate about the food industry and we are always doing tasting sessions,” said Anthony. “We are looking at new flavours for the sausages such as sweet chilli, using our original base mix, and onion marmalade. We have just had two polytunnels installed and one is going to be used by someone growing more than 200 different types of chilli and we are going to use the other one to grow vegetables for the farm shop.”
In addition to meat, the shop has always baked bread in the farm shop kitchen and sold fruit and vegetables, sourced from local growers wherever possible. Other products include free range eggs from corn-fed hens on a farm less than a mile away, locally produced speciality cheeses, local honey, cakes, fruit juices and a range of branded Moody Sow jams and preserves.
Talking about the name Anthony said: “It was a joint effort between Rhys and myself. We have got a bit of a warped sense of humour and we wanted to have something a bit quirky that people would remember. We came up with the name Stroppy Sow, and bought the domain name, and then we saw a pub called the Moody Cow and so we settled on Moody Sow. We like to have a bit of a joke with some of our customers and I say it wasn’t named after my mother-in-law!”
The shop supplies a local pub and delicatessen with sausages and customers in the farm park cafe also enjoy the various home-made products, such as a steak and ale pie where the meat is slow-cooked in Welsh ale.
Bringing diners even closer to the food, an additional cafe area is being opened in the shop itself. A wall has been knocked down to accommodate around 30 customers.
Following the shop’s sizzling success so soon after it went into business, Sandy Boyd, General Manger of the Q Guild, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the shop to the Q Guild. We know that their quality and innovation will sit very nicely with the values of the guild and congratulate them on making such an early impact in winning one of the top national awards in our barbecue competition.”