HARRY HODGSON has been selling eggs since he was six years old – and now they have been judged the tastiest organic free-range eggs in the country.
The accolade was from a panel of celebrity chefs and health experts who judged the Soil Association awards.
The 26-year-old’s flock has grown from six hens, which were given to him as a birthday present, to 2,500 which lay about 2,000 eggs a day.
The birds spend the nights in small mobile hen houses and in the day have the run of clover and wild herb-rich organic pastures at the family’s Piercebridge Farm, in Piercebridge, near Darlington.
Harry was thrilled to receive the award. He said: “We put so much work and effort in all that we do, so it is great to receive recognition.
“Because we keep the hens in small colonies of 300 to 600, they all have a much more natural life and much freer access to grass. It is what they eat that makes the eggs taste so good – the grass, clover, herbs and worms.”
The hens include some White Leghorns which produce white eggs which are becoming more popular.
“In Europe and America, they prefer white eggs to brown, but here it has always been the other way round,”
His passion for his hens and eggs has never waned and he firmly believes his high standards and exacting attention to detail also helps make them taste so good.
There are more profitable ways of production, but egg quality and hen welfare are his priorities.
“Because I started selling eggs at such a young age, I had an idea as to how I wanted to do it and that has never changed,” said Harry.
“The birds live in smaller colonies which means less stress and more access to pasture. With small houses, all the birds get out onto the range.”
Harry, and his parents Chris and Liz, are tenants of Raby Estates.
The 300 acres are completely organic and also produce organic beef, lamb and pork, as well as chickens for the table.
They have won several conservation awards including the leading Silver Lapwing Award.
The farm has a popular shop and cafe which sells their own and other local produce.
Harry also supplies Acorn Dairy – named best dairy in the same awards – Goosemoor Organics, Botton Village, and Larchfield Community, as well as a variety of shops and farm shops and organic box schemes, including Riverford and Blue Bell organics.