I just love farm shops. It might be the fact that 40 years ago I worked at Westland’s Farm produce in Surrey. It sold the meat we produced on the farm and from other local farms, and it was always busy catering to the (then) new trend of stocking your freezers with bulk meat straight from the farm.
In pursuit of this passion, I have covered hundreds of miles visiting farm shops in the UK, and farm markets in Canada. One day shortly after I retired, my wife Barb and I traveled from Derbyshire to Essex (approximately 3 hour drive) to visit a farm shop we had heard about. We then spotted and stopped at six more as we made our way back home. Every shop was different: some were small, just selling what was reared or grown on their own farms; there were also much bigger affairs with meat and produce from their own and many other local farms. The word here is local… not grown the other side of the country or even the world, not sent though many middlemen before it gets to the shops days or weeks later, but grown on the farm or a few miles away, treated with love and care and sold direct to the customer. At my Canadian home in Meaford, Ontario we are in the middle of the Apple growing region. At Grandma Lamb’s farm shop we can buy apples and delicious made-on-site pies, using apples grown right behind our property–now that’s local for you!
Farm shops respect seasonality, choosing to sell their own produce when in season. Asparagus in the spring…straight from the soil…eaten that day…bliss! Fresh-picked strawberries warm from the summer sun, not brought in from far-flung countries. How many of us have tried those nice looking red strawberries in the big stores out of season? Invariably we find them hard and tasteless thanks to so many food miles behind them.
Over the next posts, I will profile one of my favourite farm shops on 2 continents and, of course, the dishes I created after I went shopping! Great farm shops deserve our recognition and support. Share your favorites in the comments section.