For as long as he can remember Lewis Steer always wanted to be a farmer, however, not coming from a farming background this proved a real challenge, especially with no family farm, equipment and rented land in short supply. As a reward for doing well in his GCSE's Lewis was given three Greyface Dartmoor ewes by his parents, which he kept on their smallholding of 13 acres in Devon.
Believing he couldn't break into the farming industry, Lewis headed to The Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester to attain a degree in Land Agency. Whilst at Cirencester he started to build up his flock of rare breed Dartmoor sheep and frequently traveled home to Devon to tend them.
Flora Searson grew up in Chagford, Dartmoor. Although Flora grew up loving the outdoors and spending countless summers playing on Dartmoor farms with her childhood friends she never considered being a farmer herself. Whilst at secondary school she developed a flare for media and marketing which she pursued by attaining a degree in Creative Media Practice at Bath Spa University. Whilst studying, Flora made frequent trips home to Dartmoor where she slowly began to learn the ancient craft of shepherding by helping Lewis with his expanding flocks, she quickly became hooked. Having met in a small cafe in Chagford and then attending different Universities, Lewis and Flora were desperate to return to Devon to make their farming dream a reality.
They left university in 2016 turning down job offers to create a local farm company that supported the rare breed Dartmoor sheep they had come to love, and so The Dartmoor Shepherd came into being.
As their flocks expanded they needed to start renting more land on Dartmoor. Having not come into farming the traditional way Lewis and Flora had to approach it completely differently by diversifying. Instead of selling their lamb to a livestock market they decided to sell direct to the public. They are passionate about local, ethical food and want to enlighten people with the importance and wondrous qualities of wool again, by allowing people to buy direct from the shepherds.
They began using the unique sheepskin rugs from their rare breed flocks (a bi-product of their hogget and mutton) to make into products, which they now sell online, in their shop in Chagford and at shows and events across the country. In 2021 they completed the building works for their Workshop and Woolshed on some of their rented land, thanks to supportive landlords and an RDPE grant. The team has now grown to 5 people who work on the farm, in the shop and stitch the products.
In recent years after reading many books such as Dirt to Soil and Rooted, they have become obsessed with the regenerative farming movement. To find out more about their regenerative journey see the farming with nature page.
Sara and Bethan (and Trevor the dog) joined The Dartmoor Shepherd team in August 2021. They stitch and help design all the sheepskin products at our on farm workshop in Chagford.
Ali joined the team in 2023 and works in The Dartmoor Shepherd shop in Chagford. Ali also answers all of our online and telephone enquiries.
Sheila and Ann also work at The Dartmoor Shepherd shop on a flexible working hours basis.
Handmade on Our Farm
Our making begins on the hills of Dartmoor in April, normally at 3am with sideways rain as we lamb our flocks. Our lambs are then kept with their mothers until August when they begin to self wean. Our ewe lambs are kept and brought into our flock and our ram lambs go for hogget (the stage after lamb) the following year. Our sheepskins are then tanned in Britain’s oldest tannery, on Dartmoor before returning to our on farm workshop. Our products are then handcrafted in our workshop in Chagford, Dartmoor where Sara and Bethan stitch our sheepskin products on the land where the sheep graze. This gives our products full traceability and cuts our production distance from miles to yards. We value origin and the environment above all else from the farming in fields right through to our finished products.
My name is Moss, Flora and Lewis got me in July 2018 when I was just 8 weeks old. I have learnt a lot about working with sheep and have even been to sheepdog school on Dartmoor. I am told I am very useful with moving the sheep between our blocks of ground. My two favourite things are sheep and tennis balls!