Fred Berkmiller has been a wonderful and loyal customer of ours, and of our veal which is of course organic and pasture-for-life; but it is unusual for beef farms like Peelham to produce it.
Let’s go back a few years to 2004. We were struggling to sell our beef, all prices were low and farmers were feeling particularly sorry for themselves. I was at-the-time bed-ridden recovering from a broken back (fast horses), with space to think! I thought of the idea following time spent in the French Midi-Pyrennes where veal from suckled calves on dual-purpose (i.e. beef and milk) breeds such as Charollais and Limousin is common place.
I was also keen to distinguish our slightly darker beef veal from the veal from the lighter dairy cow or rose veal, and came up with the term ‘ruby’. The English equivalent of the elegant French Veau-sur-Mere or Veau-du-Lait – ‘suckled-calf veal’ – would not have resonated with the squeamish British. Veal has always been a hard-sell! To build its USP I sold it as veal from calves that had stayed with their mothers on grass and naturally with the rest of the herd.
Having continued with a small-but-strong market for our particular brand of veal, we were approached by two organic cow-with-calf dairies, both of which produce calves to the ‘ruby’ ethos and with whom we now share this market. Rainton and Mossgiel are also both pasture-for-life farms and we fit each other’s regenerative farming methods and philosophies. Sharing markets between farms like us is an extremely important driver of environmentally regenerative agriculture.
Quality is also essential. Feeding only on grass and their mother’s milk, and being slightly older than standard rose veal, gives our ruby veal a rich intensity of flavour and uniqueness that meets the expectations set by restaurants like l’escargot bleu.
With the confidence of independent, courageous and innovative chefs like Fred Berkmiller – well, we might yet be able to change the world!
You can order from Peelham Farm online.
Find them in Edinburgh every Saturday at the Leith Market, and every Sunday at the Stockbridge Market.