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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.

Farm shop and family 101

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.

My journey starts here


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Pictures:  top picture is Chantecler chickens free ranging at our farm, lower picture is apples fresh from the orchards in Thornbury Ontario.

The journey I’m about to make starts with my love of food.

As this is my very first post on my blog I think I should tell you a little about myself.  My name is Eddie and I live in Derbyshire England, and in Meaford Ontario Canada with my wife Barbara, we do have the best of both worlds. I took early retirement from my job as a quality control manager for the co-operative group, for those who don’t know the Co-op as we know it, it is the 5th largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, with 8 regional distribution centers, of which I managed 2  and with a team of QC officers we oversaw all the fresh food going through to stores, freshness, quality, health and safety, and meeting strict specification’s, this included meat, produce, flowers, dairy products, eggs etc, so a wide range of fresh foods I was like a kid in a toy shop every day it was the best job in the world for a foodie.

Derbyshire is situated in the middle of the country, the very center of which is dominated by the Peak District Park, and the wonderful stately home Chatsworth, home of the Dukes of Devonshire, which has one of the best farm shops in the country, the house and farm shop are a must visit if you visit the UK, but more of that later.  I will endeavor in the course of my blogs to review some of the best farm shops everywhere we travel, and provide links for those other foodies who would like to visit them.

Meaford Ontario, is another wonderful place to visit, this region of the south Georgian bay (part of lake Heron) is surrounded by apples orchards, growing wonderful apples and pears, to be able to visit the orchards and buy the freshest and crispest apples straight from the growers, and pick up an apple or a fruit pie from places like Grandma Lambs Orchard and farm shop to the east of the town of Meaford is a joy to behold. Further east on the west side of Thornbury lies another orchard and farm store, Goldsmiths,  which sells their own grown apples and other locally grown fruit and vegetables which are outstanding and with Thanksgiving this weekend it was packed with shoppers, we brought Kawartha Dairy ice cream, one of the best ice creams I have eaten. The climate here is perfect for growing a variety of fruit which includes wine grapes, and we have two vineyards within a few miles of the town Coffin Ridge winery and Georgian hills winery, more about them later.

I know what you are thinking, this sounds more like a travelogue type blog than a food blog, but to see where I live and what surround’s me here in Canada, and in the UK is to know me and what makes me tick.  I wantt you to know how I love to bake, to BBQ, to feed friends and family, my journey will take me many places from farms to restaurants, from my back yard garden with my home grown vegetables my ducks and heritage Chantecler chickens to farm shops across the world, and it will all be yours to read and comment on!!