AF Member Mary Easterbrook of Pheasantry Farms and Brewery Ltd, East Markham, Newark explains the changes made – and future plans – for her farm.
What was the drive to make the change?
The farm was started in 1916 by my grandfather (Joseph Camm) and up until a while ago was run together with my sister.
We bought another 200 acre farm back in 2008 and it had a derelict house and buildings on it. Both were listed. We decided to do up the house to live in ourselves and then had to make a decision on the buildings.
Back then, there were not many microbreweries in the country and there was growing interest in real and local ale. By the time we opened there were many more microbreweries. However, we have steadily built a reputation on quality and service.
Mark, my husband, has worked in the food industry for many years which helped significantly in the development of our procedures and systems. Back in 2015 our Best Bitter won Champion Bitter of Britain in the Great British Beer Festival.
The main steps to make the change?
It took about 18 months to go through planning and restore the buildings and we opened almost ten years ago in May 2012.
Initially we had a restaurant as well as the brewery, but we realised soon that this space worked better as a wedding venue. We decided to work with a partner who organises, plans and caters for the weddings and other celebrations.
The next step was when we installed, with the help of a Rural Development Grant, a bottling line and we now offer a contract bottling line as well as bottling our own beers.
We now brew about 12,000 pints a week supplying local pubs, chains and retail. This is close to full capacity.
What are the results of the changes you have made?
We employ 8 people in the brewery and 2 on the farm. The brewery and wedding venue has definitely had a positive impact financially and, since we have made more change, it becomes more relevant as we no longer have a mix of enterprises within our farming business.
The recent change we have recently undergone is the demerger of the whole family farming business between my sister and run so that now I own & farm 800 ha (390 ha wheat, 50 ha spring barley, 150 ha OSR, 180 ha pulses, 20 ha linseed and 20ha fallow) as well as running the brewery, which now has a shop on site, and the wedding venue.
How has AF helped in procuring for your business?
We have only joined AF since the demerger earlier this year, but we are looking forward to working with them procuring inputs mainly for the farming business.
What next? What have you got planned for the future?
We plan on expanding our contracting bottling service and replacing the marquee in the wedding venue with a permanent structure. We are also building a new grain store.