Field to fork at NT’s Castle Ward

Castle Ward, Strangford becomes the first National Trust property in Northern Ireland to deliver a field to fork initiative that will see Dexter beef which has been raised sustainably on the estate, feature on the menu in the tea-room
Castle Ward, Strangford becomes the first National Trust property in Northern Ireland to deliver a field to fork initiative that will see Dexter beef which has been raised sustainably on the estate, feature on the menu in the tea-room

Castle Ward IN Strangford has become the first National Trust property in Northern Ireland to deliver a field to fork initiative that will see Dexter beef, which has been raised sustainably on the estate, feature on the menu in the tea-room.

Working in partnership, tenant farmer Alan Laughlin and Paul Livingstone, area ranger at Castle Ward have been transforming the grasslands on the estate known as Tullyratty (a designated ASSI.)

Over recent years Alan’s rare breed of Dexter cattle have been managing the land in a more nature friendly way, through a management practice known as conservation grazing.

A small sturdy breed, this herd of Dexter cattle were born and raised at Castle Ward and are pasture fed only, meaning they support the National Trust with conservation grazing, contributing to the species diversity of the land. They graze the woody grass, allowing a varied range of native wildflowers to spring up which in turn supports local pollinators. This species diversity benefits both the rich diet of the cattle, and supports the National Trust’s aim of restoring a healthy, beautiful environment.

The Castle Ward Dexter Beef product will be officially launched today (August 3) to the public with a sizzling barbecue serving up the finest Dexter beef burgers. Families are more than welcome to attend the event to enjoy the barbecue and festivities including a quiz and competition. Both Alan and Paul will also be speaking on the day, providing more information about this nature friendly farming initiative.

“This is the first time the National Trust in Northern Ireland have supported a product from field to fork and we’re delighted to have Alan on board as a supplier of this seasonal product,” said Food and Beverage Manager Conor Black.

“Supporting our tenants in the delivery of sustainable farming techniques is exactly what we should be doing as an organisation. The Castle Ward Dexter Beef product benefits nature; delivers on low food miles and supports the tenant farmer.”

For farmer Alan Laughlin this has been a dream partnership, “It’s a tremendous opportunity to work with such a forward thinking organisation that are not only supporting their tenant farmers but ensuring they work in a sustainable way. The cattle get the benefit of the rich grassland which is fantastic because it means an even better quality beef.”

Visitors to the Castle Ward tearoom can enjoy seasonal recipes using Castle Ward Dexter beef creating a complete farm to fork experience.