Our Story

About Us

We are Illtud Llyr Dunsford and Liesel Taylor. In 2004 we moved to the family farm and looked for a diversification project to provide added value to our farm produce. After a career in photography and the film industry Illtud established Charcutier Ltd in 2011 and soon after Liesel joined the business leaving her career in design and technical textiles.

Drawing on the family tradition of livestock rearing and the processing of meat products, the business sought to explore the diverse range of meat products available world wide. The business is truly family run, with Illtud’s parents and his uncle supporting both on the farm and in production.

History

Our farm has remained as a traditional mixed holding.

Although dairy was the mainstay of agricultural production my Grandfather and Uncle reared British Saddleback pigs during the 1970’s and 80’s. In recent years we have returned to rearing the native regional breed; the Pedigree Welsh pig. We’re fortunate as a family to have retained the pre-war tradition of fattening to high weights, killing on-farm in winter and salting in the pre refrigeration method. The annual slaughter was a social experience with family and neighbours helping with the production of traditional products such as faggots, brawn, fresh blood black pudding, sausages, bacons and hams.

There was always the utmost respect for the animal with absolutely nothing wasted. Recipes and process have been passed from one generation to the next and we still use a traditional slate salting tray to produce hams for our own kitchen.

A childhood spent on the farm provided me with rich food memories, animal fats featured heavily in my grandmothers cooking – fried foods were cooked in a black heavy cast iron pan in lard and dripping. Butter was often homemade, salty and tasted best on toast cooked before the open fire.

My grandfather often took me hunting for mushrooms and for wild berries in the hedgerows and there’d always be a rabbit or a pheasant in the pot – this was the country way long before ‘foraging’ became a thing. Vegetables were plentiful, my father a keen gardener would always grow enough for us and the extended family – his prize winning produce now takes an acre of market garden on the farm which includes a newly planted orchard as well as soft fruits. A bounty of produce can be found for sale on the side of the road in season along with eggs from my uncles poultry.

This agricultural heritage and rich cultural upbringing forms the basis of what is now Charcutier Ltd. We draw on tradition yet we also look to the wider world having travelled extensively researching the whole supplychain from field to fork. We have worked with meat professionals in Europe and North America, studied at the Meat Laboratory at Iowa State University and were the first to gain a Hybu Cig Cymru/Livestock Promotion Wales Livestock Scholarship to study the pork industry.

Harvest, 1960’s.

un11

My father and I at an agricultural show in the 1980’s.

 

 The Farm

Our family have been farming in the Gwendraeth Valley since before parish records began.

The farm extends to 167 acres across two holdings – Felin y Glyn and Penllwynteg. In modern terms, we’re a very small traditional farm but we’re fortunate to have a rich diversity of ecosystems – traditional pasture, lowland marsh, species rich hedgerows and extensive native broadleaf woodland which include two sites of special scientific interest.

Our home farm, Felin y Glyn housed a flour mill for the Glyn Estate which has a long history dating to medieval times. During the turn of the 19th Century the estate was renamed as Glyn Abbey when a group of Breton Benedictine monks took residence. Their legacy still remains; our orchard has cider apple varieties such as the rare Pig Aderyn left over from their time here.

The farm sits on the very edge of the South Wales coalfield in an area steeped in industrial history, a branch of Kymer’s Canal, the oldest purpose built canal in Wales which dates to 1766 can be traced through two fields where it ran to collect coal from the Cwm Bach drift mine. The canal towpath later became the site of the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway, and the oldest railway bridge in Wales can be found on our neighbours property at Pwll y Llygod, and is thought to be the second oldest bridge of its kind in the world. Few industrial scars remain on the landscape of the farm – a disused quarry and a former drift mine and coal tip have both experienced the natural greening of nature.

During the medieval period, the farm formed part of Coed y Glyn an extensive broadleaf woodland featured in the legend of the Mabinogion (the earliest prose literature of Britain). The story of the Twrch Trwyth mentions the woodland and recounts the hunt for an enchanted wild boar, the story is also featured in Arthurian legend and the wild boar is said to have been hunted through South Wales and the West Country and finally killed in Cornwall. Our second link to the Mabinogion relates to the introduction of pork to the British Isles – it is said to have come from Annwfn (the Underworld). Legend goes that the entrance to the Underworld is at Penymynydd which overlooks the farm from the far side of the valley.

‘Lord,’ said Gwydion, ‘I hear that some kind of creatures that have never been in this island before have arrived in the South.’
‘What are they called?’ said Math.
‘Hobeu, lord.’
‘What sort of animals are they?’
‘Small animals whose flesh is better than beef. They are small, and their name varies. They are called moch now.’
‘Who owns them?’
‘Pryderi son of Pwyll-they were sent to him from Aawfn by Arawn, king of Annwfn.’

from The Mabinogion, a new translation by Sioned Davies.

The Old Parlour

In 2011 we established Charcutier Ltd to diversify the farm business.

Our very first batch of bacon and sausages for retail were made in our farmhouse kitchen. We’ve since expanded, initially through hiring an incubator unit at Food Centre Wales but are now firmly settled in our ‘meat lab’ on the farm. The former milking parlour was converted and opened in 2015 as a state of the art, purpose built facility with a well equipped butchery, Italian drying rooms, German smokehouse and comprehensive recipe development space.