Moonbeams Farm Shop officially opens to the public on Saturday, February 25th from 10.30am. It’s a smart timber building with a huge car park on the A38 near the Pyles Thorne Road junction.
The heart of the business is selling pork and sausages, butchered on the premises, from Jez and Kristen Pitman’s herd of Gloucester Old Spot pigs kept on the farm behind the shop. It’s a business that’s developed gradually over the 10 years since Jez left the Army.
‘We bought the farm itself 12 years ago after graduating from Seal Hayne college with agricultural degrees. Jez went off to Iraq with the army. And when he came back we had 20 acres of land previously used for growing peas,’ explained Kristen.
‘We thought how are we going to farm it? So we bought some pigs, started with six pedigree Gloucester Old Spots. They’re a traditional breed, slow-growing and nice to keep because they’re friendly and easy to handle. They’re free range all the time and they have lovely deep-bedded arks that they come in and out of whenever they please.
‘What’s funny is that if it’s a full moon they’ll all sleep outside piled on top of each other. That’s where the name of the business came from.
‘We started with six sows, then we bought a boar, Rufus.But we’re now on Rufus II and Rufus III. The head-count at the minute from little piglets to Rufus and his “wives” is about 150. They’re grazing and foraging on the ground but we also have to supplement with bulk food.”
Retailing the pork joins, bacon and award-winning sausages (such is the demand that Jez,35, makes 60kg a week by hand) began with selling from stalls at Farmers’ Markets but as Moonbeams reputation grew, the momentum for a shop developed.
“We’re in a good location on the main road but eventually we’re going to be right on the new roundabout for the Jurston Farm housing development which will make it such an easy access,” said Kristen.
The shop was built by Jez and his father John and is part of the family ethos at Moonbeams with other members of the Pitman clan, including four-year-old Bodey, all pitching in.