Three of the Best Farm Shops to Visit this Spring

The weather is improving, Covid restrictions are easing and we’re all itching to get out of the houses we’ve been stuck in for more than a year so what better first step back to normality than a farm shop? Bursting with home grown fruit and vegetables, local cheese and meat counters, home made gifts from small scale producers, onsite cafes with alfresco dining, play areas for the kids and in some cases roaming animals to chase (kidding, obviously), farm shops offer a unique day out full of opportunity. Here we highlight three great local farm shops to visit this spring.

THORNES FARM SHOP

Let’s start with Thornes Farm Shop. Located just outside Crediton Thorne Farm has been owned by Anthony Thorne since 1986 but it wasn’t until the early 90’s, when locals began asking to buy produce directly, that the idea to open a shop arose. Opened in 1992, the shop specialises in home grown fresh produce straight from the fields as well as locally baked bread and pies, meats, local cheeses and chutneys, local wines, spirits and of course cider. Thornes has also become known for its ‘Pick Your Own’ fields where, as the name suggests, customers can pick their own produce to take home – we can’t wait to pick our own strawberries there later this year. Visit https://www.thornesfarmshop.co.uk/ for opening times and more info.

EXE VALLEY FARM SHOP

Exe Valley Farm Shop in Thorverton just outside of Exeter has been owned and run by the May family since 1990. The shop underwent an extensive renovation three years ago when the shop was extended to almost three times the size and a new butchery counter installed as well as refurbishment of the Ruby Red Cafe. The dedicated butchery counter specialises in livestock bred on the farm while the farm shop itself sources a majority of local products from surrounding producers including cheeses, sliced and cured meats and locally smoked fish as well as a variety of dips and salads. All of the farm’s own Ruby Red cattle, beef, lamb, pork and potatoes are also available from the cafe menu which features a range of breakfasts, burgers and jacket potatoes as well as sandwiches and soups – something for even the pickiest eater. There is plenty of outside seating to adhere to current Covid restrictions and plenty of space for the kids to let off some steam, for more info visit https://exevalleyfarmshop.co.uk/ .

HALBERTON COURT FARM SHOP

Halberton Court Farm Shop was originally established in 2001 by the Stevens family selling home grown vegetables from an honesty box at the end of the road. By 2007 the business had expanded dramatically and the time had come to invest in a larger shop and an onsite cafe. Today the farm shop stocks a range of home grown fruit and vegetables as well as locally sourced creams, yogurts and cheeses, fresh meat and pies and pasties as well as locally sourced wines, beer, cider and spirits. Following the slight easing of Covid restrictions Halberton’s onsite cafe The Swans Neck Cafe is now open for takeaway treats to enjoy in the sunny garden (weather permitting of course!), visit http://www.halbertoncourtfarmshop.co.uk/index.htm#top for more info.

These farm shops epitomise one of our core business mantras ‘support local’. With the year we’ve all just experienced it’s more important than ever to support your local small business. Most went above and beyond for their customers both old and new during the lockdown(s) and we hope that many of these new found customers will continue to enjoy the benefits of shopping at their local farm shop.

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The Great West Country Dairy

Cheese has been made in Britain for thousands of years; our moderate climate, year round rain and lush rolling landscape make the country – and more importantly for us the West Country – ideal for dairy farming. As wine is renowned for its ‘terroir’ so cheese develops flavours unique to the grass, soil and climate in/on which the animals graze. In small scale dairies this results in cheeses with different depths of flavour dependent upon these factors which sets them apart from manufactured cheese and production line dairies. In the following blog we explore three West Country dairies and the delicious cheeses that they produce.

The Barber family have been producing their traditional farmhouse cheddar since 1833, making them the world’s oldest surviving cheddar-makers. Daniel Barber began making cheese on Maryland Farm in rural Somerset mainly for his family and farm workers using milk from his own herd of cows. However as demand for the cheese grew more milk was needed and by the 1950’s the family were working with surrounding farms to barbers maturekeep up production.
Today the farm is still very much a family business who have not lost their passion for cheese-making. Time honoured techniques and recipes passed down through the generations combined with modern technology have ensured the longevity of this traditional cheddar. We stock a wide range of Barber’s cheeses including the Vintage Reserve 1833, the Mellow cheddar and the Haystack Tasty as well as their Red Leicester and Double Gloucester cheeses. Click here to view the whole Barber’s lynher dairiesrange.

Lynher Dairies are producers of the award-winning Cornish Yarg cheese. First made in the 1980s on Bodmin Moor by Alan Grey, who found the 17th century recipe for nettle-wrapped cheese in his attic, Yarg is now made by Catherine Mead at their custom built dairy near Truro. Other cheeses include a Garlic Yarg, Stithians cheese and the Cornish Kern which won Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2017. The yargrich Cornish milk used in the cheese-making process comes from their own herd of Aryshire cows and is also sourced from nearby farms. This coupled with the cheese-makers’ experience and expertise results in some truly delicious cheeses. We currently stock the classic Yarg and the Garlic version.

Robin Congdon was the original pioneer behind ticklemore cheeseTicklemore Cheese Dairy. In the 1970’s he began reviving the tradition of sheep milking in the UK and, with thirty sheep on a smallholding near Exeter, began producing yogurt and soft cheeses. Soon he and his partner Maurice Ash expanded the business to a larger farm on the banks of the River Dart where the Beenleigh Blue and later Harbourne Blue and Devon Beenleigh3Blue cheeses were developed. The 1980’s were an exciting time for producing speciality cheeses and a larger dairy was built to accommodate new varieties including Ticklemore Goat and Devon Rustic – both of which were given to Sharpham Creamery once production needed to be simplified. We stock their Devon Blue and Beenleigh Blue cheeses.

There are many more dairies and cheeses that we could have mentioned here which proves just how lucky we are to live and work in this beautiful county. The hard work of dairy owners and the expertise of its cheese-makers ensures that the West Country cheese remains a renowned speciality.Facebooktwitterinstagram

Cheese Showcase: Blue Cheese

It seems that the origin of most innovative creations come from human error. Take the story of how blue cheese came into being; it is thought that a drunken cheese maker left behind a half eaten loaf of bread in moist cheese caves. On his return he discovered the mold covering the bread had transformed it into a blue cheese and the rest is history! Today this naturally occurring mold has been refined and cultivated and almost all blue cheeses are now made by adding this to milk during the cheese making process. The cheese is pierced during maturation which allows air to react with the mold and results in the characteristic blue veining common in most blue cheeses.
Blue cheese is one of our favourite varieties with flavour profiles ranging from mellow and creamy to sharp and tangy, below we explore some of our bestselling blue cheeses.

stilton 2 (2)Stilton
Perhaps one of the best known of the blue cheeses our Stilton is produced by the Tuxford & Tebbutt Creamery, one of only six creameries in the UK permitted under the EU Protected Designation of Origin status to produce traditional Blue Stilton. It is a rich, complex cheese with a smooth creaminess when young developing into a tangy sharpness when mature. The texture is light and crumbly with a straw-like colour and dark blue veining throughout. We like this crumbled over salads with pear and walnuts or stirred into creamy pasta with some mushrooms or bacon. The cheese is available in whole 4kg rounds and 200g retail packs, click here for more info.

Dorset Blue Vinny
Dorset Blue Vinny was once made in almost every farmhouse in Dorset until the Second World War when production died out. The cheese was resurrected in the 1980’s using a 300 year old recipe and is today made on Woodbridge Farm by dorset blue (2)Michael Davies. This is a lovely, mellow blue cheese with a creamy, crumbly texture. Due to its artisan production the colour varies greatly from cheese to cheese, typically it is a deep yellow on the outside with a much lighter, creamy colouring towards the centre and dark blue/green veining throughout. Try this in a creamy leek and potato soup or on some crackers with a light, fruity chutney. The Blue Vinny is available in whole 3kg rounds and 150g retail packs, click here for more info.

Devon Blue
Made by Robin Congden of Ticklemore Cheese in Totnes, the Devon Blue is produced by hand using cows’ milk sourced from a local farmers co-operative. devon blue (2)This is a moist, crumbly cheese with buttery, clean flavours and soft texture. As the cheese matures it develops slightly sweet, caramel tones resulting in an intriguing, complex cheese. The colour of Devon Blue is pale and creamy with subtle blue veining throughout. Try this in a savoury cheesecake with walnuts and rosemary or in a warming blue cheese and broccoli soup with chunky bread. Devon Blue is available in whole 3.5kg rounds and 130g retail packs, click here for more info.

Blue cheeses are wildly different and their astonishing range of flavours mean we will never tire of trying new ones.Facebooktwitterinstagram