The Langton Arms, Dorset – Our Story

Dorset farm create unique food label to honour local producers

The Cossins family says shopping local is key to agricultural sustainability.

As well as opening a butchery and shop on their own farm, they have launched a food label and awards scheme to showcase their county’s best produce and help put consumer trust back into buying locally.

James Cossins is the fifth generation to oversee day to day life at Rawston Farm, in Tarrant
Rawston, near Blandford Forum, Dorset, a traditional mixed farm covering 1,012 hectares (2,500 acres), of which 647ha (1,600 acres) are owned by the family, with the rest a combination of rented and contract farming.

They have 300 milking cows across two herds – mainly Friesian Holsteins – and keep 180 cattle, including traditional breeds such as Aberdeen-Angus and Herefords, which go into the farm’s butchery and shop.

James also grows 728ha (1,800 acres) of crops including winter barely, winter wheat, spring barley, spring beans and maize on their land, situated half an hour from the coast.

His wife, Barbara, came up with the idea of opening their butchery in 2012, initially to supply home produced meat to the village pub – The Langton Arms, in neighbouring Tarrant Monkton – which she has been managing since they bought it 30 years ago.

Labelling

In 2018, Barbara came up with a plan to create a county-wide Love Local Trust Local food label scheme to help consumers understand the provenance of their food and encourage them to support local farmers and growers.

The ethos of the scheme is built on three main aspects: quality – that food should be grown with love and care to the highest ethical standards; honesty – that customers should know the full provenance of the food they are eating; and proximity – that sourcing food from within 30 miles of its destination fosters community and is good for the environment.

Barbara says: “The label scheme came about after we’d hosted an Open Farm Sunday event. It was very apparent how important food miles and eating local produce and meat was to so many people and that they wanted to support the British farmer.

“But there were issues at that time with supermarkets being taken to court over fake farms, food being brought into the country and being reprocessed and repackaged under the British flag as well as the horsemeat scandal.

“It was clear, even through our own butchery and shop, we needed a label created by farmers for farmers so people could see and trust what they were buying.

“We did it for ourselves and our friends and other farmers thought it was a really good idea.

“Originally, it had the Union Jack on it, but I cannot really promote that, so we’ve got the logo of a boot, as not everybody who is producing has a tractor, and now other selected producers use it too.”

In 2020, despite being in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Barbara continued with her campaign, launching her own Dorset Food and Drink Awards to showcase the producers using her label and their own unique stories.

Thanks to the power of the internet and sponsorship, the awards attracted more than 60 entries across categories including meat, cheese, drinks, fish, chutneys and confectionery.

“It’s all about recognising and celebrating small, independent business, including farmers and fishermen, which genuinely support and embrace everything local in their food and drink production, telling their stories rather than those of the pubs and restaurants.”

She has always been passionate about food. A farmer’s daughter, she had hoped to study catering and hospitality, but ended up going to agricultural college so she could work on her parents’ dairy farm when her father’s health began to fail.

Butchery

After marrying James, the couple bought The Langton Arms and Barbara juggled running the pub with raising her family, becoming more involved in the farm when the butchery opened, followed by the on-site farm shop.

The Cossins have been farming in the Tarrant Valley since 1877 and have a long tradition as milk production wholesale suppliers since 1910. James began working on the farm in 1978 and hopes their son, Henry, who is currently working for a local agricultural supplier, will become generation number six. They use a grass-fed system for their cattle, with the milkers grazing in the summer months on the naturally lush and mineral rich pastures of the Tarrant Valley, while the beef animals receive grass and maize silage in the two months before they leave the farm.

Milk from the dairy herd is sold through contract to Arla, while the traditional, hardy breeds are reared to go through the farm’s butchery. They breed their own dairy replacements and James uses Aberdeen-Angus and Hereford bulls on the remainder of the animals.

“What we are looking for within our own little butchery is small animals. They go to the local abattoir at about two years old as we can’t really cope with big animals,’ James says.

“Ideally, we require about one-and-a-half a week, which over a year equates to 70 to 80 animals which come back at about 300–350kg deadweight and goes into our shop, a few other independent retailers and the pub.”

The butchery opened in 2012 after it was decided to transform a redundant building and reinvigorate the farm. Barbara employed a local butcher and the venture has gone from strength to strength. They sell their own 28-day matured beef and work closely with other Dorset farmers and suppliers to offer a quality selection of meat including pork, lamb and game all under one roof. They also sell homemade pies, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, home-cooked ready meals and Barbara’s ‘delicious’ vanilla ice-cream.

“Because we’re farmers it was really hard getting good quality meat. I’d always wanted to sell our own meat in the pub,” Barbara says.

“We had our own animals, so it was just a question of putting it all into place. “It started off being just for the pub, so diners could really experience the field to plate philosophy, but then people started coming to us and it’s just grown from there, with the shop coming a little later.”

Challenges

The farm is eligible for a number of environmental schemes, although determining which to go for is sometimes a challenge in itself, says James. He works closely with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and is just coming to the end of his current Mid-Tier Scheme, so is currently considering his options.

There are conservation margins on the farm as well as beetle banks and they grow cover crops, including fodder radish, black oats, vetches and phacelia. But James says one of the biggest challenges has been trying to ascertain what the future of farming actually is.

“Now with Brexit done, we are hoping British consumers will want British produced foods and not rely on imports. The last year has taught us how important this is,” he says.

“But if you’re prepared to work hard, I think there’s a good future in milk. “Other issues are meeting the requirements of contracts when you’re a working farm. It’s all very well having pots of flowers about, but we’ve got cattle and it’s not always practical. Then there’s trying to find good staff. People think it’s hard work and poorly paid, but there are a lot of youngsters coming into the industry and we need them to know they can earn a reasonable wage, while enjoying the benefits of working outdoors and physical activity.”

Opening the butchery and shop has helped raise the farm’s profile locally and that has helped the family spread the word about quality produce as well as giving them a platform to explain what they are doing, how they do it and why.

Looking to the future, Barbara is keen to keep growing her initiatives. She wants to inspire other growers and producers to share their stories and in turn encourage the public to back their own local farmers.

“For me, it’s all about taking people back to basics and getting people to reconnect with agriculture and farmers,’ she says.

“I want to be handing over my experience. For years I didn’t want to share my recipes, but now I know that I need to.

“Farmers still want to keep producing food and for that they need the public’s support.”

A Farmer's Guardian article by Emily Ashworth


Love Local Trust Local

Here at Love Local Trust Local, we want to put consumer trust back into buying local, Dorset food with genuine provenance and full traceability.

The Cossins family are fifth generation farmers and as well as their farm they own a freehouse pub and a butchery & farm shop in the Tarrant Valley, just outside of Blandford Forum in Dorset. Both The Langton Arms in Tarrant Monkton and Rawston Farm Butchery & Farm Shop in Tarrant Rawston are well-known for fantastic, local Dorset food & drinks.

As supporters of the LEAF campaign, every third year we host Open Farm Sunday on the family farm. We take this opportunity to talk to as many local people as possible about the food they eat. Our visitors love knowing the story of their food, the miles it has travelled and that they are buying & eating genuine local produce. But what they often ask us is, how do we know that the food we buy elsewhere really is what it says it is?

Many of these conversations took place back at our 2018 event and it was clear that the many scare stories in the newspapers & media had created doubt in many of their minds, so we decided to do something about it.

We created our very own Love Local Trust Local label for Dorset food you can trust.

Quality     Honesty     Proximity

  • This food has been grown with love & care and to the highest ethical standards
  • This food has transparent and full provenance and complete traceability
  • This food has been produced with the main ingredients sourced from less than 30 miles of its’ origin
  • This food fosters community spirit & is good for our overall environment

We use the label ourselves and now share it with carefully selected Dorset businesses that share our ethos and also believe in local, well-sourced food from our fabulous county including our winners and runner-up’s of the Love Local Trust Local Awards!

In the summer of 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we launched the inaugural Love Local Trust Local Awards for Dorset Food & Drink producers, farmers and fishermen. We were hesitant at first and tempted to delay our plans. However, what better time than in the midst of a global health crisis to promote buying and consuming local food & drink with provenance you can trust?

The inaugural awards received not only some fabulous entries but were deemed a huge success by our sponsors and judges who thoroughly enjoyed the process and created significant interest in the press and from many Dorset businesses wanting to be involved. No mean feat in the midst of a pandemic! The Cossins family are passionate about Dorset, Food & Drink and advocates of promoting British farming and the collaboration of small, local businesses working together. Their intention is for the Love Local Trust Local Awards to grow and to be around for many years to come in the support of all that is Dorset!

If you would like to be part of this, please take a look at our categories, choose the ones for you and complete the entry form.

If you are a small, independent Dorset business that fits our Love Local Trust Local ethos and would like our labels to use, please get in touch with us at awards@lovelocaltrustlocalawards.co.uk

If you would like to sponsor a category or element of our awards, you can find out more from our Sponsors page.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Love Local Trust Local food & drink family.

Best wishes
Barbara

Barbara Cossins
Founder, Love Local Trust Local & Love Local Trust Local Awards
Owner, The Langton Arms & Rawston Farm Butchery & Farm Shop

A rich & rewarding history in the local Dorset community

The Langton Arms is a beautiful, multi award-winning 17th century thatched country pub with its own restaurant, function room & private gardens. Nestled in the heart of chocolate box Dorset countryside, it is situated in the pretty village of Tarrant Monkton with six en-suite bedrooms if you fancy staying over. The pub can be found at the heart of the village, far from the hustle and bustle of modern life. It sits opposite the beautiful All Saints Parish Church which dates back to the 15th century.

Voted Best Country Pub in Dorset 2018 by SME Business Awards, Best Food & Drink Business 2017 at the Taste of Dorset Awards & Best Pub in Dorset by The National Pub & Bar Awards 2016. The Langton Arms was also winner of the prestigious Best Overall Food Business Taste of Dorset Award 2015. The owner and landlady Barbara Cossins was awarded Businesswoman of the Year for Dorset 2016. Here she talks about the pub and what makes it such a special place.

 

 

The pub has been owned and run by Barbara for more than 25 years. The Cossins family have been farming in the Tarrant Valley for five generations and have their own Rawstar Herd and raise traditional cattle breeds of Aberdeen Angus and Herefords. This wonderful local meat supplies the pub menu and is also available from the family-run butchery & shop in Tarrant Rawston, offering traditional cuts of meat, poultry, seasonal game and sausages.

The fall and rise of The Langton Arms, Tarrant Monkton

In 2004 a fire ravaged the main thatched building bringing 14 fire engines to put it out and almost completely destroying the whole pub. Barbara and her team worked day and night to rebuild the damaged parts of the building as well as the business itself and opened for its first wedding only a week later. Today, The Langton Arms is stronger than ever and opens its doors seven days a week to water, feed and entertain both locals and visitors from far afield.

Barbara and head chef picking from home grown garden

Beer Garden

Relax and unwind in our beautiful outside spaces. We've a peaceful courtyard, children's paly area and a big sunny beer garden that looks out onto green fields.

 

Play Area

The Langton Arms is a great place to bring the family, we have a large safe well-equipped play area next to a beautiful country beer garden. A haven for both young and old.

Relax with a drink or a bite to eat while the children wear themselves out having a great time in the play area.

Finding us

Get directions

Address

The Langton Arms
Tarrant Monkton 
Blandford
Dorset 
DT11 8RX

Phone: +44 (0)1258 830225
Email: info@thelangtonarms.co.uk

The Langton Arms is an award-winning thatched country freehouse pub situated in Tarrant Monkton near Blandford Forum, Dorset. Proud to have been owned & managed by the same local family for 26 years, we have something to offer everyone.

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Awards

Countryside Alliance Awards Finalist 2016 The National Pub & Bar Awards 2016 Recommended on Trip Advisor Taste of Dorset Awards 2018 - Finalist The Great British Pub Awards 2019

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