The Creation of Riverside Beef
Hi, I’m Jon Reeves founder of Riverside Beef Producers Ltd. On arrival at the Ouse Washes, I was soon captivated by the beauty of the place and the diverse amount of nature supported on the reserve. The more I understood the eco system and management required to deliver this unique habitat, the more I realised one of the most important aspects of grassland conservation management is cattle grazing.
Cattle graze in such a way, that they leave a mosaic of different heights of grass, which all have their importance for different species of breeding birds to nest and feed.
The light bulb went on!
Why don’t farmers market their beef with the connection to a nature reserve? With this in mind, I organised a very well attended meeting in 2007 for all Ouse washes farmers. As a group we researched and explored the possibility of selling Ouse Washes beef. The reality proved harder to achieve, however the dream was still burning to deliver a premium beef product to discerning customers. In February 2009 Riverside beef Producers Ltd was founded, by myself and partner Rick Sanderson who had experience in taking food products to market.
October 2009 saw the sales of our very first beef products, by launching a box scheme delivering direct to customers. Supplying a local restaurant, butcher and several village stores, soon followed.
In 2010, Riverside Beef has continued to evolve along the path to establishing the company as a leader in the premium beef products reared on areas delivering conservation. Suffolk Meat Traders, who have carried out all our butchery from the outset, have now become partners along with Anglia Quality Meat, who help source and market cattle for the company.
Riverside beef Producers is now in a great position to deliver a consistent quality product for all our customers.
I have worked in agriculture all my life, working on farms during my school holidays and after leaving school spent the next 10 years honing my skills on a mixed dairy, arable farm in Northamptonshire. This was followed by a period of contracting work, which ranged from arable operations to managing yards of beef cattle.
In 1997, with my wife Annie and young sons we took the plunge and moved to the Fens, taking on the roll of livestock manager for the RSPB on the Ouse Washes nature reserve. The job entailed managing the summer grazing of 1200 hectares, (6000 football pitches) with 2500 beef cattle owned by 20 farmers.
Since 2005 and to this present day, I am now the site manager of the reserve, taking the overview of the grazing, visitor requirements and regularly liasing with other organisations, farmers and individuals.
Anglia Quality Meat
Anglia Quality Meat are a reputable and established livestock marketing co-operative. AQM, as they are known, have huge experience in the selection and Marketing of farm livestock and are therefore natural shareholders in the business.
Suffolk Meat Traders
Suffolk Meat Traders provide and handle the product processing aspect of the business. Again SMT’s wealth of experience ensure the beef is prepared to the highest standard and the product reaches the market at the highest quality.