Due to unprecedented demand for their products, award-winning longhorn beef farmers Tori and Ben Stanley opened a new farm shop with its own state-of-the-art butchery at the end of 2017. In an exciting development, they’ve partnered up with MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Sven-Hanson Britt to create an exciting food experience at the new butchery on Chantry Farm in rural Derbyshire.
Set within 10 acres of beautiful grassland, the new site allows Tori and Ben to offer a diverse range of cuts and meats, including homemade charcuterie. In true farm-to-fork style, head butcher Vince talks to customers about the full range of butchered cuts of beef and lamb produced on their farm. Tori says: “We’ve been blown away by the demand for the rare breeds we rear, butcher and sell. We’ve seen how important it is for people to see where their meat comes from, to learn about how it was reared, and how best to cook it.”
Fordhall Farm Shop is based on England’s first community-owned farm in north Shropshire. The land has been farmed organically for more than 65 years and the livestock remain outdoors on organic pasture all year. The shop also prides itself on selling a wide range of organic, local, seasonal and natural foods.
There is Fordhall lamb and grass-fed beef, free-range Gloucester Old Spot sausages, carefully sourced local free-range poultry, home-cured bacon and handmade sausages. Farm manager Charlotte Hollins says: “We have a large selection of ales and beers, and homemade pies from our on site bakery, plus a café. Visitors can also take a walk around our farm trails to see the livestock in their natural habitat, so Fordhall offers an opportunity to see organic farming in practice.”
Algy Garrod’s grandfather took on the tenancy of Manor Farm in 1931 and he cultivated blackcurrants, peas and brassicas as well as sugar beet, barley and wheat. The farm was taken on by Algy’s father in 1954, when the family started to sell fruit and vegetables from a small roadside stall. When Algy returned home to Manor Farm in the mid-1980s after completing his agriculture studies, the farm had stopped dairy and beef production and was concentrating on arable crops, including pumpkins and sweetcorn.
The family opened a farm shop in 2005, initially to sell bird seeds and Christmas trees but now it sells a huge choice of homegrown vegetables, local products like Bray’s Cottage pork pies and Letheringsett flour from Norfolk’s last remaining watermill. It also sells its own range of Algy’s popcorn made using cold-pressed oil produced from rapeseed grown on the farm.
Despite renting 625 acres of land in the South Downs, it soon became clear to fifth-generation farmer John Pile that the agriculture at Middle Farm would have to be supplemented by another income stream. In 1960, and much to the consternation of fellow farmers, he opened a farm shop, believed to be the first of its type in the UK.
Milk from the cows, eggs from the chickens, cakes, chutneys, jams and marmalades from Viv Pile’s farmhouse kitchen were soon joined by meat cut into joints with ad hoc butchery skills gleaned from Reader’s Digest: The Cookery Year. To satisfy increasing demand, John took to his Transit and travelled the country to find the very best British farm produce, including ciders from Somerset and Devon.
Half a century on and Middle Farm is now home to the National Collection of Cider and Perry, with more than 100 apple and pear tipples available in the converted barn, alongside wines and beers from local vineyards and breweries. As well as raw milk from the Jersey herd and seasonal fruit and vegetables, the farm shop sells 80 different cheeses, many from Sussex.
Now run by John’s daughter Helen and her husband Rod, Middle Farm has stayed true to its roots and welcomes 260,000 visitors every year to tour the farm and watch the cows being milked. Rod says: “With the rise of the supermarkets, plus the environmental issue of food miles and energy conservation, the emphasis is increasingly on producing whatever we can on the farm, whether it’s raw milk and Jersey beef from our prize-winning pedigree herd or unpasteurised apple juice or our own cider.”
“We are very proud of our local sourcing policy,” says Chris Wildman of Town End, a remote rural farm shop set against the stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales. “The majority of our produce and ingredients comes from Yorkshire and with the best provenance we can find.”
In recent months, business has been brisk at Town End, thanks in part to the development of the shop’s Widman range of charcuterie and salumi, as well as the selection of Yorkshire gins it stocks. The shop’s success is down the fact it keeps moving with the times. No surprise then that it also runs its own butchery courses.
When it launched in 2013 as part of Cefn Mably Farm Park, the Moody Sow only opened at weekends and the scanner at the till didn’t work properly. Five years on and it’s now open seven days a week with eight family members and a team of 30 looking after the shop and farm park.
“In the early days, the product range was mostly bought in,” says shop manager Anthony Tilbury. “We had to learn how to make the sausages and cure our own bacon, we now make all our own pies, burgers, sausage rolls, pasties and our award-winning scotch eggs.” Moody Sow uses pork raised on site, and has taken on another 100 acres to allow it to start its own herd of beef sucklers.
What started 40 years ago as a modest little farm shop is still run by the same family but these days Darts Farm is part of a thriving mini food village with a butcher, fishmonger, bakery, deli, cider maker and restaurant.
Tucked away in the picturesque estuary town of Topsham, close to Exeter, the food hall is filled with hundreds of local and artisan suppliers, and it’s one of the best places in the region to buy West Country cheeses.
Owned and run by three brothers, Darts Farm is proudly still a working farm, headed up by eldest brother Paul. With Red Ruby Devon cattle grazing in the fields, Paul and his team harvest a wonderful selection of fresh fruit and vegetables daily, which are sold in the food hall and used by the restaurant.
Sibling to Tebay Services in Cumbria, which opened in 1972, Gloucester Services was launched by the same family in 2014 and it couldn’t be further from the image of motorway services being tired places serving dreary food. Instead of fast-food outlets on the forecourt, there’s a well-stocked farm shop selling locally produced food, a butchery featuring meat reared from regional farms and a kitchen serving homemade dishes produced daily using local ingredients, plus a fish counter stocking sustainably sourced fish caught in UK waters.
Gloucester Services works with 130 local suppliers within 30 miles of the shop and a further 70 from the region. And for the onward journey, who could resist one of the exemplary sausage rolls, local lardy cakes or a slice of Jonathan Crump’s double Gloucester cheese.
“Our aim is to create a farm-fresh experience for our customers,” says Paul Rose, retail manager at Trevaskis Farm shop. “With fruit and vegetables arriving straight from our fields, we try to honour our ‘food yards’ motto, and support local growers and businesses where possible.”
Surrounded by 28 acres of Cornish countryside, this 30-year-old business incorporates a farm park, restaurant and shop. As well as meat reared on site – the farm is well known for its home-reared British Lop pork and south Devon breed beef – it also has a fishmonger selling fish landed just nine miles away in Newlyn. Paul says: “We sell whole fish and fillets but the range varies depending on what’s been caught that morning.”
As third-generation dairy farmers, the Wilson family wanted to find a more sustainable way to work with the land, livestock and local community. More than a decade ago, Rebecca Wilson’s vision was to run a farm shop that exceeded people’s expectations, while supporting sustainable farming and “bringing local food to local people at affordable prices”.
Occupying a former petrol station and a collection of yurts, the Jolly Nice Farm Shop and Café opened in 2013 and has gone on to win numerous awards. The family’s Shorthorn cows graze the herb-rich pasture on the farm and supply the Jolly Nice butchery and kitchens with grass-fed beef. Rare-breed pigs such as Tamworth, Gloucester Old Spot and Berkshire are reared by Rebecca’s husband, Simon. Rebecca says: “Almost everything in our butchery is traditional or rare-breed meat straight from our own farm in Westonbirt or from our local farming friends. We can tell you which farm each cut of meat has come from, what breed it is, how it was reared and who the farmer is.”
The family also sells organic vegetables grown and harvested daily at Prince Charles’s Duchy Home Farm in nearby Tetbury. And that’s not all – the Wilsons’ eldest daughter, Harriet, also has her own brand of (incredibly delicious) Jolly Nice ice cream, which is sold in the shop.
The award-winning Welbeck Farm Shop is found at the heart of a vibrant food community that includes the School of Artisan Food. Much of the shop’s impressive range is sourced from or prepared at the Welbeck estate, including rare-breed livestock which graze the estate’s historic pastures (pictured below).
The estate’s own raw milk is also on offer, delivered fresh every morning. It’s the same milk used in the acclaimed Stichelton blue cheese, which is made by Joe Schneider just down the road. There’s a cheese counter at the shop, as well as a brewery, bakehouse and even a resident chocolatier.
“Keep it fresh, local and simple” – that’s the ethos of Blair Drummond Smiddy Farm Shop, a 10-minute drive from Stirling. Close to a safari park, this compact farm shop opened at the end of 2016 and has quickly become a hub for the local community. Championing Scottish produce (it makes its own haggis), it has a butchery specialising in locally sourced meats, a delicatessen and café serving food made on site.
“Where we can, we get local produce,” says manager Linda. “Our award-winning butchery shop gets all its meat from within a five-mile radius, and the chickens come from 15 miles away. The eggs come from a farm only three miles away and we get our potatoes throughout the autumn and winter months from a farm that is just a mile away.”
Still Britain’s best known, and most upmarket, farm shop thanks to its celebrity clientele, Daylesford is a destination in its own right. The prices may be a touch higher than your average muddy farm shop but it’s all about the provenance and attention to detail here.
Daylesford is one of the most sustainable farms in the UK and has its own abattoir, so there’s complete traceability. And then there’s the award-winning cheese (head cheesemaker Peter Kindel, pictured below), which you can discover in the dedicated cheese room, including a delicate, buttery single gloucester cheese that has PDO (Protected Designated Origin) status and is made from the milk of native Gloucester cattle.
What started as an organic farm shop has grown into a place people spend the day – or even the weekend – thanks to the launch of a cookery school, floristry workshop and spa, not to mention The Wild Rabbit gastropub-with-rooms up the road and the converted farm buildings that now offer luxury accommodation.