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Harborough firm boosted by the return of goose to the festive table

Claire and Robert Symington of Seldom Seen Farm in Billesdon.  Marks and Spencer signed a contract with the farm to buy 5,000 of their geese for Christmas.

Claire and Robert Symington of Seldom Seen Farm in Billesdon. Marks and Spencer signed a contract with the farm to buy 5,000 of their geese for Christmas.

More families are planning an alternative to the traditional festive turkey this year and a farm in the Harborough district is benefitting from the trend.

Historically the Christmas dinner of choice in Victorian times, goose is back on the menu in 2013.

Retail giant Marks and Spencer is seeing goose making a firm comeback this year with a 12 per cent year-on-year rise in sales.

One of the farms which has been rearing birds for M&S is Billesdon’s Seldom Seen Farm.

M&S has sourced its geese from farmers Claire and Robert Symington at Seldom Seen for more than five years.

The retailer is crediting the growing popularity of the bird to its versatility and flavour.

Rosie While, the poultry expert for M&S, said: “Although British turkey continues to be the festive favourite, we have seen a steady rise in sales of free-range goose over the years as an alternative Christmas roast.

“Formerly the centrepiece of the Victorian and Edwardian dinner table, customers are keen to try the goose as a more unusual luxury option.”

Traditionally a soft fruit farm, Seldom Seen Farm has been rearing geese for 25 years, since Claire asked husband Robert for a pair for their pond.

Claire said: “I asked Robert for a pair of geese for my birthday and he came home with 32 – that’s how it all began.”

The following year, Claire and Robert ordered 100 geese, followed by 200 the year after that.

Now they rear 5,000 geese each year, with M&S being the only high street retailer the farm supplies.

Claire added: “We rear our geese in the traditional way – they are hatched in May, graze on the grass during summer and are fed nothing but home-grown corn all their lives, making them as free-range as can be.

“When store-ready, our geese have a distinct yellow flesh and a deep meaty flavour.

“The way we pluck the geese ensures the skin is always dry, meaning it crisps perfectly when roasted.”

All their geese are delivered into M&S stores oven-ready, complete with giblets and a chunk of butter-yellow goose fat.

Speaking about the steady rise in the popularity of goose, Claire added: “Goose is such a versatile Christmas dish.

“Not only is it ideal for roasting and serving up as a traditional feast, but it makes a wonderful paté, works well as leftovers for a risotto or bakes perfectly in a pie.”

The Symingtons said they would be enjoying one of their own geese for Christmas dinner this year.

For more information about the farm, visit website www.seldomseenfarm.co.uk.

 

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