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Pig farmer wins top UK dotcom award

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A Somerset pig farmer has been crowned Britain's top dotcom business king.

Richard Counsell has transformed his 200-acre family business at Rodney Stoke near Cheddar into an online organic meat market. The 24-year-old reckons its is cheaper to buy organic nosh from him than from any of the major supermarkets because his scheme cuts out the middle man.

The former London currency trader yesterday won the award for the UK's best e-commerce operation - sponsored by Barclays Bank and The Sunday Telegraph.

The Somerset Organics site is beautiful, surfers can check out the animals before they put them on the table for Sunday lunch - the Gloucester Old Spot pigs ambling in the Somerset grass, the Belted Galloway cattle, and over 500 ewes.

Meanwhile, there is a 360 degree panoramic view of the farmhouse, a virtual tour of the farm, as well as photos of Counsell with Jack the border collie and even a weekly recipe. This week it's Spiced Lamb and Cashew Kebabs.

While the majority of Britain's farmers are suffering, business seems to be booming at the Counsells. Orders are delivered nationwide for an extra £4.99, and the average order is around £90, with a lot of business coming from hi-class restaurants, the company claims. Orders come from as far afield as the Orkneys and Channel Islands.

But the venture had humble beginnings, according to John Counsell, Richard's father.

"I didn't know a thing about the Internet," he told the BBC. "In the end, Richard swapped one of our Aberdeen Angus heifers for a second-hand computer and that's how he got going." ®

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