Producer of the Month: Jonathan Martin, Lincs Turkeys
Jonathan Martin grew up on a turkey farm. Rather than put him off poultry farming, it ignited a desire within him for farming top quality British turkeys. When he joined his father's company in 1999 it was far from being a simple case of nepotism. Jonathan is utterly passionate about British turkeys.
Situated on the historic marsh pastures beneath the Lincolnshire Wolds, Lincs Turkeys produce fabulous bronze birds which are hatched and raised in traditional Pole Barns in Grainthorpe. Jonathan's father started the company in 1978. Jonathan has always had a passion for farming. At 13 he started working at weekends on a nearby farm looking after cattle and sheep. After studying at Bishop Burton Agriculture college, he went to New Zealand to work on a sheep and deer farm. On his eventual return to the UK he decided to fulfill his ambitions and go into the poultry industry. He secured a job with BUT turkeys on a breeder farm in Cambridge and went on to work in a turkey hatchery. He joined Lincs Turkeys in 1999 as Farm Director.
‘Turkey John’ also visited 10 Downing Street to present Cherie Blair with one of their bronze bests.
- Why do you do what you do?
I really enjoy working with animals. I'm passionate about the way we rear our turkeys. We grow turkeys to suit all pockets and whether they are free range or the barn reared birds, they all enjoy natural ventilation and natural light. I just love watching the turkeys grow. It always amazes me how big they grow from tiny poults.
- What achievement are you most proud of?
Lincs Turkeys have been the sole supplier of weekly free range turkeys to Waitrose for the last 7 years. This was a great coup and meant that roast turkey was available all year round and not just at Christmas.
- What is your most memorable moment?
For the last 8 years we have been collecting awards at the annual British Turkey awards in London for our free range products.
- If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you do to encourage more people to eat British Food?
I would ban turkey imports as the UK can certainly supply all our needs. I would also ensure more supermarket shelf space is given to turkeys all year round. I would encourage everyone to eat turkey at least once a week rather than once a year - whether in sandwiches or as part of evening meals.
- What is your favourite food and why? Free-range turkey.
If I didn't love the taste I wouldn't do this job.
- What are your predictions for the future of British food?
We all want to know the traceability of our food. Buying British guarantees this. The consumer is realising that to have quality they have to buy British. We need to support the British food industry now to ensure there is an industry in the future.
- If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
Born here, Live here, Eat here - Support your British farming.
- Best budget tip?
Buying a whole bird can produce more than one meal for the whole family - it's cheaper and goes further. Also buy directly from the farm or from a farmers markets; that way you can talk directly to the producer and learn more about the provenance of the food you are purchasing.
- What's on the menu this evening?
I will be cooking delicious lasagne made from turkey thigh meat (minced) with a rocket and parmesan salad. Delicious! There's a huge selection of mouthwatering recipes on britishturkey.co.uk so I often go there for inspiration.
- How can people get hold of your produce?
Our products are sold via many supermarkets - Waitrose/Morrisons to name a few. We also supply many wholesale butchers across the UK. Look out for the Quality British Turkey stamp alongside the familiar Red Tractor logo when you buy. Also see ilovebritishturkey.co.uk for more info.