Meet James Nuttall AKA Hens on the Hill
This is the tenth local producer i have met now for the series of blogs named “Putting a face to our food” I did go to visit James in early September but i have waited until British Egg week to tell you all about it and his enterprise.
It all started with 6 chickens which were bought from a small holding show about 8 years ago, neighbours started asking for eggs, then covid and an honesty box.
His enterprise is now the production of sustainable free range eggs. But what does sustainable mean here? Well , he has two methods of egg production. One is traditional free range, the other is the mobile coop chickens- this is a new set up and in he’s only in week four(the visit was back in September).
These chickens are moved every 3-4 days so they have constant access to fresh pasture and bugs unlike caged or traditionally kept chickens. The mobile coop is there to sleep and lay their eggs in and it has slated floor so the manure falls to the soil. The natural by product of this is the soil is being naturally fertilized through the chicken manure and it is being given the chance to regenerate itself through this rest and fertilization. In sustainability terms this method is also great for carbon sequestion. More on carbon capture can be read in this link here Carbon Farming: Sequestering Carbon in Plants and Soil – earth.fm
Regenerative agriculture is another term we hear a lot right now. James said “At Hens on the Hill it means constant innovation including hen rotation and working with and mimicking nature again as much as possible. Look at animals in the wild- they don’t stay on the same patch of land- they keep moving like nature intended”
What’s the difference between his free range and his pasture raised?
Pasture raised means the chickens are getting access to fresh pasture. Not just grass but all leaves including weeds, bugs, grubs and worms. These chickens are less reliant on supplemented grains for their diet and thus the egg is of greater nutrient density. This along with the ecological benefits results in a superior egg. However, it is more labour intensive – the coop is surrounded by an electric fence and every time it moves the fence also needs to be moved. Hence these factors are reflected in the price.
The vending machines
He stocks produce from local suppliers with good standards and similar values. James said “ Our customer base appreciates quality and they like to support to the local economy. We are seeing more and more people take an active interest in their food and who is producing it. I hope and I think this will continue. We now need more local food producers” We definitely agree on this!
The eggs right now are a mixture of pasture and free range. “We have been so busy we haven’t got the processes in place yet to separate the eggs. So customers are getting a really good deal, and they are fresher than most eggs you can buy- especially from a supermarket. Our eggs can be laid, picked and boxed up sometimes on the same day.”
You can also buy organic veg boxes, desserts, butter, baked goods, cheese, pasta & sauces and lots more.
Stock includes produce from ;
Oakstream Pastures https://www.oakstreampastures.co.uk/
The Handcrafted Pie Company (9) Facebook
Little Livs Bakery (9) Facebook
Pudalicious (9) Facebook
Goodness Graze and Eat (9) Facebook
JJ Sandham (9) Facebook
Plans for the future
He has visions for another mobile coop, hopefully phasing out the free range to fully pasture fed. As James was showing me the area where the free range chickens are and explaining how the soil was becoming eroded it was clear that he is passionate about modern farming that is healthier for the human and kinder to the planet. Any enterprise with such good intentions, values and ethics is sure to achieve great things. Exciting times for James and his Hens!
You can find him here ………
Hens On The Hill, Elton Road, Belthorn, Blackburn, United Kingdom
Opening hours 7-7 7 days a week
The machines take cash and card.