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Ten of the best…farm shops

Vanessa Jones

4th November, 2011

Offering the ultimate in locally produced food, Britain's farm shops are a culinary national treasure

From fat juicy blackberries direct from the hedgerow in late summer to succulent free-range homemade burgers, farm shops offer nothing but the best when it comes to locally sourced, seasonal goodies. Like green grocers of old, farm shops rely on the freshest, in-season goods simply because they only sell what they grow or make. Being reminded of the way our grandparents would have shopped makes you wonder whether there’s any real need for supermarkets, especially when you realise how competitive prices are. Farm shops also provide a more environmentally friendly way to buy your weekly groceries, thanks to the minimal food miles, ethical approach to labour and (in many cases) pesticide-free production. With a minimal effect on the environment and better tasting food, farm shops are infinitely superior to supermarkets. Here are Britain’s best.

Newlyns Farm Shop, Hampshire
The winner of this year’s Best Farm Shop in Hampshire award, Newlyns Farm Shop is located in the midst of 500 acres of verdant patchwork fields, on which the owners have been producing top class meat and vegetables for four generations. Along with meat, fruit and vegetables, Newlyns also has an extensive range of toothsome local treats on their deli counter, which changes with the seasons. What’s more, Newlyns also offers cookery classes using produce made on the traditional mixed family farm.
Find out more: www.newlyns-farmshop.co.uk

Darts Farm, Devon
A family-run business that began as one man selling fruit and vegetables out of a small hut at the bottom of a field has now become two shops selling a huge range of locally made goods. Winner of the BBC Food and Farming Best Local Food Retailer award 2010, Darts Farm sells meat reared on the premises along with seasonal fruit and vegetables and fish sourced from local trawlers. It has also branched out into homeware and bicycle hire, and is home to the Treatment Loft , which offers a range of holistic beauty therapies including Hopi ear candling and aromatherapy massage. Better still, with the exception of beauty treatments, you can now buy everything online.
Find out more: www.dartsfarm.co.uk

Lobbs Farm Shop, Cornwall
As soon as you walk into the welcoming wooden-beamed building that houses Lobbs Farm Shop, you’re hit by the aroma of fresh bread thanks to the presence of an on site bakery. Located in the tranquil Cornwall countryside and overlooking 850 acres of green gloriousness, it’s quite possibly the most beautifully situated farm shop in the country. Better still, most of what’s sold in the shop is produced on the traditional family-run farm, which means zero food miles. Along with home-grown, free range produce, it also provides a platform for other local producers selling their organic fare, including oils and homemade booze. A free tour of the working farm is also on offer if you want to find out a bit more about where all of the appetising grub comes from.
Find out more: www.lobbsfarmshop.com

Gonalston Farm Shop, Nottinghamshire
With a more than 70 different cheeses on offer, a huge range of locally sourced chutneys and relishes and a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, Gonalston is the farm shop equivalent of a supermarket. The in house fishmongers pride themselves on seasonality and can tell you exactly where your fish came from. Delivered daily, the marine fare available also includes Gold Taste Award winning smoked salmon as well as native oysters. Elsewhere, you’ll find plenty of organic meat, fruit and vegetables, including Denhay Farms’ award-winning dry cure British bacon. If you aren’t lucky enough to live in the area, the shop also delivers.
Find out more: www.gonalstonfarmshop.co.uk

Farrington’s Farm Shop, Bath
This winner of the British Champions Local Food Award 2011 is located midway between Bath and Wells and produces some of the finest produce that the south west has to offer. Seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables are the order of the day, with most of the produce sourced from local suppliers – minimising food miles in the process – as well as from the family farm. Along with meat and vegetables, the shop is also home to a concession run by The Thoughtful Bread Company, which specialises in artisan bread made from local, seasonal ingredients. As an added bonus, the shop also runs The Udder Café, which serves up a menu based on what’s on the shelves that day, and helps maintain Farringdon’s 10 acre woodland nature reserve.
Find out more: www.farringtons.co.uk

The Blagdon Farm Shop, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Selling only locally sourced organic food, Blagdon’s meat comes from a few selected Northumberland farms, while its organic potatoes are grown on site. Other treats on offer include freshly made ice cream from Doddington, wild Roe deer venison, an enormous range of sausages and delicious homemade vegetarian quiches. What’s more, Blagdon is one of only 24 farms with LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) status, which means that the standard of food on offer is produced to the highest environmental standards.
Find out more: www.theblagdonfarmshop.co.uk

Ardross Farm Shop, Fife
Originally set up to sell the farm’s own succulent beef and vegetables, the business has now grown to encompass a wide array of artisan-made products, including its legendary steak and ale pies. Produce available changes from season to season, with an average of 50 different types of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs at any given time. Ardross has also tailored its offerings by using customer recommendations to stock the shelves with top rated foodie treats. Among them is mouth-watering homemade chocolate, a selection of British wine and beers and some seriously luxe ready meals made using the organic, fresh ingredients sold in the shop.
Find out more: www.ardrossfarm.co.uk

Castlefarm Shop, Kildare
Set on 170 acres of Northern Irish countryside, everything sold in the Castlefarm shop is made by owners, Jenny and Peter Young. Focusing on quality organic, seasonal produce, Castlefarm’s offerings include homemade organic cheese, apple juice and preserves with the majority of ingredients grown on the farm. If you want to get involved with food production, the Youngs also offer complimentary tours of the farm, food talks and the chance to try your hand at milking and egg collecting. Locals can also rent allotments on the farm and can give grow your own a go.
Find out more: www.castlefarmshop.ie

Llwynhelyg Farm Shop, Ceredigion
60 per cent of the produce on offer comes from within 40 miles of the shop, with half of the remainder sourced from Wales, while the rest comes across border from England. Mostly though, what you get is a real taste of Wales, including artisan Welsh cheese varieties and traditional Cambrian treats such as bara brith, teisen lap and welshcakes. Their dedication to Welsh fare hasn’t gone unnoticed either with Llwynhelyg taking home the ‘Wales in True Taste Retailer of the Year Silver Award in 2009.  Other favourites include the homemade quiches, cakes and savoury pies that are cooked either onsite or by local farmers’ wives.
Find out more: www.llwynhelygfarmshop.co.uk

Whitmuir Organics, Scottish Borders
Winner of the best UK organic retailer 2011, it’s no great surprise that Whitmuir Organics does a brilliant line in wonderful, locally sourced organic produce.  With almost as much choice as your local branch of Waitrose, the shop stocks around 2,500 different Fairtrade and organic products. Much comes from elsewhere in the UK but Whitmuir also offers you the chance to buy their own organic meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables plus homemade haggis, steak pies and ultra luxe ready meals. There’s also a range of organic wines, cosmetics, household products and organic cotton baby clothes to get your hands on. Although a little unusual in traditional terms, Whitmuir is a modern take on the farm shop that’s well worth visiting if you’re in the area.
Find out more: www.whitmuirorganics.co.uk

 

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