IF you really want to know where your food is coming from Longdown Farm near Ashurst is the place to go.

Longdown Activity Farm is open to the public as an educational facility to show people how their food is produced so you can see their goats, pigs, sheep, cows and other animals – and exactly how they are being reared.

Farmer Bryan Pass believes passionately in the importance of both local food and animal welfare.

He won’t allow his goats to be sold for Halal meat as he is against the method of killing animals, which is one of the reasons why he is now selling his goat meat himself.

He keeps a herd of around 150 Billy goats at any one time, selling 15-20 each month.

The majority of these go to be slaughtered for meat although some are sold as pets or pony companions.

“We buy Billy goats from big dairy farms in the West Country,” explains Bryan.

“Billy goats are normally put down at birth in milk herds. We fatten them up for a year.”

Bryan had been concerned that people might not be keen to eat goat meat as they might think of goats as pets rather than something they’d eat, but it has proved to be very successful.

Goat meat – known as chevon – is eaten by around 80 per cent of the world’s population but has not yet gained popularity in the UK. But Longdown Farm could be changing that.

“A lot of people have been glad of the opportunity to try something new,” says Bryan.

Longdown Farm Shop sells chevon in whole or half goat, jointed, in cuts, minced, diced or in burgers.

“It isn’t at all tough because it’s a young meat. A lot of people have only tried goat in places like Greece where the goats are normally about five. These goats are one year old. The taste is more subtle, like veal – but they’re not bred in veal conditions!” he’s quick to add.

The herd is raised in a barn with free access to the outside – though Bryan says that goats, like pigs, tend to prefer the comforts of being indoors to roaming free.

“To us, welfare is extremely important,” says Bryan.

“We’re open to the public – we don’t hide anything. We’ve built up quite a following now.”

As well as welfare, Bryan is also passionate about local food.

Longdown has set up a farm shop to sell their own as well as other local producers’ products.

“The local farmers have realised we’re not looking to make a big profit out of it. As far as I’m concerned, every pound I take away from big supermarkets, the happier I am!”

n Longdown Farm Shop is located at Longdown Activity Farm in Deerleap Lane near Ashurst. It is open 10am-5pm, Wednesday to Sunday and offers free delivery to a five mile radius, |minimum order £10. For more |information, call 023 8029 2837 ext 5 or visit longdownfarm.co.uk.