Sophie’s sausages are the sizzle

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‘Don’t sell the sausage. Sell the sizzle.’ Sophie Baker is managing to do both brilliantly with her award-winning sausage business, reports Tracie Beardsley

In her polytunnel, Sophie grows herbs and tomatoes for her recipes
All images: Courtenay Hitchcock

Sophie Baker is a regular face at farmers’ markets and rural shows across the region.
And she stands out.
Not only because her home-made, award-winning sausages are delicious, but also because, at just 26, she’s one of the youngest local producers on the scene – and one of very few females in the meat industry.
The Advertising Standards Authority would agree ‘Farm Girl Sausages’ lives up to its name. Sophie is most certainly a girl and she runs her business from a smallholding in Holt, near Wimborne. On 15 acres, Sophie raises 150 chickens from day-old chicks to slaughter. Her lamb is from Quarry Farm in Shaftesbury and pork is sourced in her own village. She’s just started selling whole roasted chickens and has a brilliant line in tasty burgers and BBQ food.
All her products are gluten-free and contain only natural ingredients. She also offers delicious plant-based and vegan options and the recipes are all her own. Herbs for her gorgeous sage and pepper sausages are grown in her own polytunnel, as are the tomatoes and basil for other great flavours. Apples for pork sausages are picked in her garden and she’s just started keeping bees for her new honey-flavoured products.

When she’s not making or selling her sausages, Sophie will be found with her horses

Entrepreneurial genes
Leaving school at 16, Sophie (a keen horsewoman) worked at breaking-in horses and at a local meat factory. She explains: ‘I had lots of ideas on how products could move forward from traditional to more trendy. I knew there was a growing market for gluten-free and rusk-free products, that people also wanted different flavour combinations and vegan options. When the factory closed, I thought why not start up my own sausage-making business?’
It’s no surprise that Sophie has entrepreneurial drive and vision. Her whole family are self-employed in businesses as diverse as selling boats, running a caravan park and maintaining farm machinery. Sophie says: ‘I’ve always admired people like my mum, dad and brother who run their own small businesses. It’s been part of my growing up and I’ve seen first-hand how much hard work it is.’
Her boyfriend, also self-employed, supports Sophie fully in the long hours she’s working. Summer is a key time, with food festivals and country shows every weekend, as well as her regular weekly stalls at Shaftesbury and Salisbury Farmers’ Markets. It’s a seven-day working week.

Sophie’s farm is working towards Soil Association organic status

“I make around 300 sausages for a market. For festivals, it’s more like a thousand. I’m up at dawn tending chickens, then making sausages and products from mid-morning onwards. Radio is my soulmate at the moment.’’

Chemical free
Clearly passionate about her food provenance and her environmental footprint, Sophie is working towards the coveted organic certification from the Soil Association. ‘I’ve got through the mountain of paperwork,’ she explains, ‘and I’m now in what’s called a conversion period with the land. I’m so excited. I know a lot of customers want organic products. My customers are my free market research. I offer samples on my stall and get immediate feedback.’
She adds: ‘I’m inspired by the producers I meet at farmers’ markets – I have free business mentoring every week! Kensons Farm in Wiltshire has been organic since 2001 and I really admire their ethos. They encouraged me to get onto social media to promote my products and this has really helped grow my business.’
Sophie now produces videos and recipes for social media and customers can order products online and pick up directly from the farm.
‘I love showing customers the chickens and my set-up here so they can see exactly where their food is coming from.’
Sausage-making workshops at her farm may be on the cards in the future. That’s really selling the sizzle!

Sophie uses all local ingredients – apples for pork and apple sausages are picked in her own garden

Shop for Sophie’s produce online at FarmGirlSausages.com
You can see Sophie – and sample her wares – at the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show on 17 August.
Look out for her bright yellow tent!

Quick Fire Questions with Sophie:

A-list dinner party guest?
Emily Pankhurst – what an incredibly brave woman!

Books on your bedside?
Cookery books – they help me with new seasonings and ideas. My favourite chef is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His recipes are simple, fresh and with lots of ingredients from the garden.

Favourite sausage?
In this hot weather, it has to be sweet chilli and lime – I like the combination of sharp and zesty flavours. Chicken and Marmite is another favourite – marmite works so well in sausages.

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