I am a sucker for a farm shop and it would appear I am not the only one. No longer seen as quaint and over-priced, the number of Farm Shops in the UK tripled between 2004 and 2017 to 3,500. According to the Guild of Butchers, Farm Shops are the fastest growing part of the meat selling industry. Whilst consumers are trying to reducing their meat intake for health and environmental reasons, they seem to be genuinely interested in understanding the provenance and the quality of their meat. This is where the Farm Shop excels, as their meat and vegetables are often produced on either their own or neighbouring farms, offering the consumer trust and reassurance.
One of my favourite farm shops is Wellington Farm Shop which is a regular stop on our family’s journeys down to the New Forest. Located just off the A33 the shop is part of the Duke of Wellingtons Estate.
Not only does it have a fantastic selection of fresh breads and three butchers on site offering tips, it has a vast range of seasonal fruit and vegetables, and a lovely selection if gifts and homewares. All this set alongside a café, serving fresh home cooked food means we can stock up on our key fresh ingredients without having to go near a supermarket, and also get great snacks in the form of fresh sausage rolls and scotch eggs, to keep us going as we continue our journey.
There is a real focus on food miles and free range products at Wellington, two elements which we focus on when purchasing our food shopping. Much of the beef comes from their own herd of Hereford beef, which they farm on the Estate’s water meadows and the lamb comes from their Welsh Black Mountain flock. This philosophy follows through with the fruit and vegetable selection, as they typically stock what is in season and what is available in the UK.
Alongside the vegetables and meat selection, there is an array of products that complement a purchase, therefore appealing to the busier cook by offering a homemade meal solution which can be quick and easy to prepare.
I hope the UK’s Farm shops are one of the winners posts Brexit. With their philosophy of sourcing local British produce and allowing small farmers a direct route to market, a good farm shop can really create a sense of community. They can become a destination in their our right by offering an experiential shopping experience or a great café, as demonstrated by Wellington Farm Shop. But more importantly they can offer the consumer the option to shop in an environment which understands the importance of food miles, the environmental impact of packaging and is working with its suppliers to offer a long term sustainable future.