The advantages of farm shops go far beyond the satisfaction of shopping local, with numerous benefits all round.
Potential benefits for the producer:
- Better prices for their produce due to removing the middle man from the equation and working in direct partnership with the outlets.
- The prospect of building relationships in the local community through personal engagement and local pride.
- The chance to educate and inform the local community on the origins of their food and change perceptions of farmers and the wider agricultural industry.
- The potential to thrive in a niche area of the market with rare / specialist products not available in the supermarkets.
- The opportunity to inspire interest in the industry for future generations as consumers feel more in touch with the origins of their food.
- Customer loyalty – customers increasingly like to think that they are supporting local business rather than big brand supermarkets.
- Since some farm shops aren’t actually located on farms at all, there’s the opportunity to reach a more diverse cross section of the community, while maintaining independence from big name supermarkets.
Potential Benefits for the consumer:
- Ethical assurance – knowing the origins of their food and the manner it in which it was grown, raised and produced.
- Ecological gratification – shopping local = less travel. Plus less packaging and preservatives used in the production / sale of produce.
- Perceived assurance of better quality, fresher produce.
- The ‘feel good factor’ of supporting local rural industry and promoting ‘self sufficiency’.
- Better connection with their rural community.
- Everything always seems to tase better!
Farm shop favourites
It goes without saying that competition is seriously increasing with farm shops becoming the retailer of choice for many households, over big name supermarkets. From the traditional to the unusual and up-and-coming - we take a look at some of our favourites.
Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop, The Peak District.
Perhaps one of Britain’s original modern farm shops, the Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop was established by the Duchess of Devonshire in 1977 to exclusively sell meat from the estate farms. Over the years it has evolved to stock everything from local honeys to venison steaks and seasonal baked favourites. Over 60% of goods found here are produced or prepared on site and all meat is still raised on the estate’s farms. Other ranges include vegetables from nearby Buxton, a fish counter, a delicatessen and a patisserie. The on-site café also uses ingredients sold in the shop in the production of the items on it’s menu.
Kimbers’ Farm Shop, Wincanton, Somerset.
Run by the same family who have farmed the land here for over 300 years, Kimbers’ Farm Shop is a true rural gem. Headed up by husband and wife, Paula and Ruth Kimber, they continue the family tradition in the lush pastures of the Blackmore vale, with son and son-in-law working full time on the farm. Their daughters and daughter-in-law also help out on the farm, in the shop and at Farmers Markets from time to time. Their farm is mixed stock, fed predominantly on home-grown feed. Shoppers can enjoy the opportunity to make up their own hampers from the meat and pantry section as well as laying their hands on a great range of dairy from the local farm. Kimbers’ is highly regarded for their great quality meat.
Cobbs Farm Shop, Hungerford, Berkshire
With a huge play barn and pick-your-own for the kids and an on-site vineyard for the grown-ups - what’s not for families to like at Cobbs Farm? Soft fruits have been grown on the farm for over 30 years and with renewed vision, a small flock of sheep has been introduced to aid land management. The farm shop itself features a deli, butchers, fishmongers and florists and stocks an array of tasty treats from freshly baked bread, preserves and chutneys to luxury dairy ice cream, smoked fish, cheese and meats. The vineyard is famed for their award winning English sparkling wine – Alder Ridge. Cobbs Farm is a true commercial enterprise.
Craigies Farm Shop, Nr Edinburgh
Celebrating Scotland’s larder, Craigies Deli & Farm Shop is true to it’s roots, selling mostly local and home-grown produce. Founder John Sinclair and his wife Kirsteen turned around a struggling beef and dairy farm to create a farm village that now welcomes 260,000 visitors each year. Embracing the traditional with their specialist counters, the award-winning butchery is headed up by Steve Mitchel AKA ‘The Buffalo Farmer’ of the BBC’s ‘This Farming Life’ fame. Their deli counter is stacked with mouth watering chef-prepared oven ready quiches, pies and meals, while the cheese counter specialises purely in Scottish cheeses. There is of course a great selection of freshly baked breads, free-range eggs, fruit & veg and much, much more.
Marshall’s Farm Shop, Aberdeen
The fresh food selection at Marshall’s farm shop is truly home grown - featuring specialities from their own farms in Aberdeenshire. These include steaks and roasting joints, beef burgers, venison burgers, sausages, and bacon, plus chicken and home made pies. Home-grown veg includes potatoes, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, carrots, cabbage, beetroot and soft fruits. Products including preserves, bakery goods and other delicacies are sourced from trusted and well-loved local suppliers to maintain that close-to-home ethos. The farm itself is a family business established for over 40 years.
Allarburn Farm Shop, Elgin
A fabulous family run farm and farm shop, Allarburn is a father / daughter enterprise, locally famed for their award winning Wagyu steak pies and high quality beef from their native breed herd. Originally a dairy farm, they have since diversified into egg and vegetable production instead. Their range of home grown and locally grown vegetables ensure they can influence quality and guarantee the best possible price for their customers across the menu to compliment the beef they also produce.
Fen Farm Dairy, Suffolk
Farmed by the Crickmore family for three generations, Fen Farm is home to a happy herd of Montbeliarde cows that graze the marshlands of the Waveney River Valley in Suffolk. The specialism of husband and wide team Jonny and Dulcie, is in turning their delicious raw milk into artisan cheese, raw cultured butter and Icelandic style yogurt – Skyr, on site. Jonny has been hands-on on the farm since the tender age of four and in his spare time is the chairman of the Raw Milk producers association.
Mrs Mack’s Farm Shop, Skye
Arguably the cutest farm shop to ever exist, this great little place is nestled at the bottom of Blaven. While the owners Sara and John raise their own beef on the croft, and the shop sells a range of cuts including steaks, joints, burgers and sausages, there’s also a great selection of cheese, home baking and unique gifts. The location is perfect for breaking up your adventures on the Isle of Skye with a tea or coffee and a filled roll or delicious Cream of Galloway ice cream. Their picnic benches make the perfect perch to soak up the stunning surroundings.
Beacons Farm Shop, Brecon
Run as a family business in conjunction with the Welsh Venison centre, Beacons Farm Shop is famed for it’s award winning meat. The farm’s venison is particularly sought after and features on the menu of critically acclaimed restaurants locally and further afield. Meats are available in a variety of cuts and include beef, lamb, pork, game and poultry. The shop also offers a variety of hampers including a ‘meat for a week box’, a ‘venison box’ and a ‘fruit and vegetable box’ as well as hampers personalised with products of your choice and including cheese, chutneys, jams, and wine.
Pant Mawr Farmhouse Cheeses, Pembrokeshire
Pant Mawr Farm is home to the Jennings family and Pant Mawr Farmhouse Cheeses, which the family established in 1983. Cited as the home of real welsh farmhouse cheese, customers will find a fantastic range, created from locally produced milk and unique, self-developed recipes. You’ll find goats milk cheeses and cows milk cheeses, which are produced on site from locally produced milk, all available individually, or in a range of hampers which make the perfect gift.
Having lived and breathed farming for four generations, the Mckees are well versed in the rearing of livestock and growing of vegetables on their 400-acre farm. Now run by Colin and Linda, their specialities include home reared beef and chicken as well as free range eggs. The surge in demand for convenience foods has spurred the development of a range of wholesome home made ready meals that the customer simply has to re-heat at home.
Hillstown Farm Shop, Antrim
Another farm that has been in the family for generations is Hillstown. Their farm shop opened in 2007, stocking predominantly their own free-range meat and locally produced food. Beef is from Aberdeen Angus and Shorthorn cattle – selected for their superior, flavoursome marbled meat. Pork is all rare breed and their lamb is lean. The on site butchery follows traditional approach, offering their customers a more specialised and arguably better quality meat. For example their beef is hung and dry aged – a technique rarely adopted these days. Their overall ethos is highly contemporary with a huge focus on animal welfare, food ethics and standards and the environment.
The emphasis on shop local, shop small can only be a good thing for food producers and rural businesses. Long may it continue!
Published on: 15 April 2021
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