The British Lop sausage that took top honours in the pork category of #GoNative with a British banger came from a family that has been farming in the same parish in Cornwall for over 400 years and can trace its association with the breed back to at least 1860. Not surprisingly, the sausage recipe is
a closely guarded secret of the Eustice family.

Trevaskis, the Eustice family farm and now farm park, has always been a traditional mixed farm and is currently run
 by Giles Eustice, with the rest of the family closely involved – and Lops have always been part of the farm, as Giles, also Chairman of the British Lop Pig Society, explains

“If you were a Eustice, you kept British Lop pigs –known as the National Long White Lop Eared breed until the 1960s – and South Devon cattle. By the 1960/70s, Lops were in the hands of a very few breeders in the South West; two of the main families keeping them were the Eustices and the Collings. Both are still heavily involved with the breed and between us we have a lot of history and a phenomenal depth of breeding knowledge.

Giles Eustice

The words ‘profit’ and ‘pig’ don’t always go hand-in-hand, but at Trevaskis, the Eustice family has developed a business model that has seen turnover grow from £350,000 in 2004 to around £4.5 million today. However, while its pork could be described as a flagship product, diversity has been the key to this success – that and a real passion that encompasses family history, food, growing and bloodlines.

Up until the late 1970s, Trevaskis was a traditional mixed farm, producing pigs, cattle and winter vegetables. A ‘dreadful’ winter crop led to a scaling back of operations and led Giles’ father Paul to take the pioneering step of planting soft fruits for a pick-your-own business. This move into retail was continued when Paul’s wife, Adele, created a restaurant, the Farmhouse Kitchen.

Giles, in the meantime, had moved out of farming, forging a successful career in computer broking. Finding the draw of the family farm too strong, he moved back to Cornwall in 2004 and set about what he describes as ‘putting wings on an incredibly strong core’ which has seen turnover from the 28-acre farm (plus rented grazing) soar over the past 12 years. The first step was to expand the restaurant, which saw a 120% growth in two years and now averages 4,000 main meals per week. With a passion for food, it was easy for Giles to relate to the restaurant business and he is as happy putting on chef whites and getting into the kitchens as he is working on the farm.

The next step came in 2008 with the opening of West Cornwall’s first farm market offering a combination of the convenience of supermarket shopping and the local quality of a farmers’ market. Giles explains

“We aim to offer an affordablealternative to supermarkets – more like farm retail as it was in the 1980s. We are a destination shop with a farm-gate attitude and we work hard at being competitive and offering the best produce at the best price.

Giles Eustice

It would be easy to assume that being in Cornwall, Trevaskis depends heavily on the tourist trade, but that is far from the truth. The Farm Market is focused on the bread-and-butter local trade and can have bumper days in January. “The tourist trade tops us up,” says Giles.

Not all of the fresh produce sold at the Farm Market comes from Trevaskis itself, but anything not produced on-farm comes from local producers who share the same values. Giles says

We sell 100 different crops, farming business out to other growers and producers. The family is the powerhouse and by buying in in the way that we do, we are helping to spread the wealth of the business through the community. It would be cheaper to buy commercial breeds, but then we would be just
like any other butcher. Of course, that could mean compromising on margin, but we counter that by ensuring that we are super efficient.

Giles Eustice

Giles admits that his time spent in computer brokering gave him a different insight to running the business and he is very much committed to bringing in state-of-the-art technology in areas such as the restaurant kitchen. However, while committed to moving forward, he is keenly aware that Trevaskis cannot afford to lose its ethos or its family feel. Giles’ sister Serena has recently left a successful legal career to return to the farm and mother Adele, “a legend”, would still be there night and day if she could.

With all of this going on, the family still finds time to show commitment to the British Lop breed by promoting its products and showing their pigs. The next step along this path could involve putting British Lops into the US market. Giles comments

I’ve met someone in America who can’t speak highly enough about our bacon and pork products and is interested in having the breed over there. You never know, it could be our first international post-Brexit free trade deal!

Giles Eustice

Entrance to Trevaskis Farm Park is free and educational farm tours are available. Learn more here