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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Ingredient Showcase: Chilli

This is the second blog in our ingredient showcase series and this week we’re focusing on chillies. Love them or hate them, chillies can really enhance a product whether that’s a searing heat that makes your whole mouth tingle, a slow burner that builds into an intense heat or more of a gentle, fruity flavour that you keep coming back to again and again. We’ve collated some of our favourite products containing this versatile ingredient starting with a cheese.

Dartmoor Chilli is one of Curworthy Cheese’s newest products but has proved extremely popular with some of our customers. The cheese is made in the same way as Curworthy’s signature ‘Devon Oke’ before Ring of Fire chillies grown at the nearby Dartmoor Chilli Farm are added to the mix. These are similar to Cayenne chillies with the same level of heat – 50000-80000 on the Scoville scale – while the cheese itself is mellow and sweet with a lovely creaminess which is perfectly complimented by the heat from the chillies. Wrapped in red wax this attractive cheese is available in whole rounds as well as 150g retail wedges.

West Country Olives are available in a variety of flavours but for this showcase we are highlighting the Hot Chilli version. These Mammoth Halkidiki olives are stuffed with a whole birds eye chilli (hot!) and are described as ‘not for the faint hearted’. They are available in 200g pouches and 1kg catering packs if you think you can stand it!

Snowdonia Cheese Company are a luxury cheese producer based in Wales, they produce a variety of delicious flavoured cheeses encased in attractive coloured wax. The Red Devil cheese is a rich Red Leicester with the addition of Snowdonia’s secret blend of Habanero chillies, peppers and spices, it “delivers a magnificent depth of flavour and an irresistible heat” and provides a perfect chilli kick to burgers or cheese on toast. Encased in a bright red wax, this cheese is available in individual 200g truckles as well as whole 2kg rounds although these do require a pre-order.

Waterhouse Fayre are producers of delicious jams, marmalade and chutneys based in Tiverton; one of these delicious chutneys is the Devilishly Devon which is made to producer Ann Stallard’s own recipe. Described as “light and refreshing with a hint of chilli” this chutney is a perfect addition to a traditional ploughmans lunch or to add a light chilli kick to a good old fashioned ham or cheese sandwich. These chutneys are available in trays of 6x340g jars.

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Ingredient Showcase: Garlic

We don’t know about you but it certainly feels as though Spring has sprung today, the sun is shining (mostly!), it’s getting warmer and pretty daffodils and bluebells are in abundance everywhere. One foodie staple of spring is wild garlic which at this time of year can be found throughout the country along riversides and woodland. We thought we’d celebrate this humble bulb with a focus on some of the bestselling products containing it starting with cheese.

Lynher Dairies Cornish Yarg is undoubtedly one of our bestselling cheeses but did you know that they also produce a wild garlic variety? The cheese itself is made to the exact same recipe with the only difference being that rather than wrapped in nettles, the Garlic Yarg is wrapped in wild garlic leaves but the difference in flavour is simply staggering. The leaves impart a lovely gentle garlic flavour as well as slightly altering the texture of the cheese, making it firmer and less crumbly than the original. The team at Lynher pick their wild garlic from surrounding Cornish woodland each spring in an extremely limited time frame – normally only from mid-March to the end of April – the leaves are then wrapped around the cheeses and left to mature for up to six months. The Garlic Yarg is available in both whole 1.6kg rounds as well as half moons and retail pre-packs.

West Country Olives are a new addition to our product list with a variety of different flavours available. The garlic olives have already become one of the most popular flavours and with good reason for garlic lovers! These mammoth Halkidiki olives are hand stuffed with whole garlic cloves before being finished with minced garlic and rapeseed oil. These are available in individual 200g resealable pouches as well as 1kg catering packs.

Waterhouse Fayre are producers of a range of bestselling jams and chutneys including a slow roasted garlic chutney. The whole garlic is roasted for a total of four hours before red onion, spices and red wine vinegar is added and these are then cooked together for a further four hours. Anyone who has eaten roasted garlic on its own can atone for the delightful sweetness of flavour that it takes on and this chutney is no exception as it develops a lovely, sweet mellowness. The Waterhouse Fayre chutneys are available in trays of 6x325g jars.

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British Pie Week Staff Favourites Day 4

Dan started working for us in the complete mayhem of last year and since then has pretty much managed to cover all aspects of the business from picking and packing orders to taking a starring role in our Westcountry Olive promotional videos and recently trying his hand at inputting invoices and updating our website after a slight altercation with his thumb. As the requisite foodie type required to work in this industry Dan said “my death row meal would be pie, pie and chips, pie and mash, pie on its own – just pie”.

His pie of choice is the classic chicken and bacon, “if I know I’ve got a chicken & bacon pie waiting for me at the end of the day it makes it a whole lot better”. We agree, pie does make things better, and the chicken & bacon pie from Chunk of Devon is no exception – lovely and creamy with big chunks of tender chicken combined with intensely smoky bacon pieces in a creamy white wine sauce. What’s not to love?

Q&A with Dan

Q: Favourite chunk pie and why? 

A: Chicken, bacon and leek, combination of flavours really work well together, chunk create smooth yet complex gravy that really combines the chicken and bacon.

Of course the best thing about any chunk pie is the perfect pastry, flacky which is owed to being a great British pie

Q: Chips or mash? 

A: Long pause….. Chips due to the simple fact that you can dip into the gravy/sauce and clean up the plate.

Q: If you had to eat only one meal for the rest of your life what would it be? 

A: Starter – mozzarrella dipper, halloumi fries and sweet chilli dip

 

Main – steak and ale pie, yorkshire puddings, roast pudding red cabbage and cauliflower cheese

 

Pudding – sticky pudding toffee

Q: How long have you worked at Isca Foods? 

 A: Around 6/7 months 

Q: What is your role at Isca? 

A: Olive production manager, Picker, due to a recent cycling incident he has taken more of an admin role currently helping with invoicing and banking.

Q: Have you always wanted to work in the Food Industry?

A: No, however life is built on spontaneous experiences which will make great stories for when i am an old man! 

The Acting dream will never die and i may become famous one day

Q: What do you look forward to doing most when Lockdown restrictions have been eased completely? 

A: Leaving the house without a panic of ‘have i got a mask on me!!’

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Shop Local: Farm Shops

There is a certain feeling about walking into a farm shop, a sense of excitement and anticipation of something new just waiting to be discovered among the locally made chutneys, artisan breads, small batch cheeses and handmade cakes. The experience is far removed from that of supermarket sterile-ness, lucid lighting and endless, uninspiring aisles full of generic goods identical to those from up and down the country from which we mindlessly select the same products week after week.

Many farm shops are now day out destinations boasting not only their award-winning produce but also catering to the whole family with children’s play areas, live music events, supplier tastings, fantastic cafes and the opportunity to feed and/or play with the farm animals. The growing popularity of farm shops in recent years can be seen in the physical size of them; most shops began as small sheds selling only surplus fruit and vegetables yet today they are sprawling cornucopias bursting with an array of local products and often similarly packed with a number of discerning customers.

millers farm shopMillers Farm Shop was established in 1979 by Malcolm Miller and his family who committed to selling a range of locally sourced produce alongside home grown vegetables and seasonal plants. Described on their website as an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of the ‘most sumptuous food imaginable’ Millers Farm Shop perhaps epitomises the ethos of the farm shop. The family run business currently stocks delicious breads, pastries and pies, artisan cheeses, sliced meats and pâté, fresh fish, local milk and creams, artisanal gins and liqueurs and more. Their incredibly knowledgeable staff are passionate about their products and the friendly, relaxed atmosphere generated at the shop encourages repeat custom.

Thornes Farm has been owned by Anthony Thorne since 1986 and the farm shop was established in 1992 after locals started asking to buy the farms famous thornes farm shopstrawberries directly. Today they also supply their range of soft fruits and vegetables to other local shops and wholesalers. The farm shop itself stocks a wide variety of delicious locally made products including a range of Devon blended teas and coffees, local eggs, creams, yogurts and butters, wines, ales and soft drinks among so much more. They also offer a ‘Pick your Own’ service encouraging their customers to enjoy the best produce currently in season and following an hour or so out picking your own food their cafe provides the perfect place to relax and unwind in the peaceful Devonshire countryside while enjoying delicious handmade food.

We are really spoilt for choice for quality farm shops here in Devon and we could have mentioned so many more in this blog. This weekend why not browse one near you, you might discover something amazing.Facebooktwitterinstagram

Local Producers – Wessex Country Gammons

Here in Devon we are extremely lucky to have so many fantastic local producers on our doorstep – from artisan cheeses and bespoke blended teas to quality sausages and handmade puddings. In a time when consumers are increasingly concerned with low food miles and the provenance of their food, locality and the ‘shop local’ campaign have never been more apt. With this in mind we are producing a blog series on our local producers and their delicious products, this week focusing on Wessex Country Gammons.

cooked hamEstablished in 1987 at Vine Close Farm in Wimborne, Dorset, Wessex Country Gammons began as a producer of quality cooked hams before expanding their range to include beef, turkey and continental deli meats. Hams are very much still the focus with a range including honey glazed, hickory smoked, golden breadcrumb and natural ham. Extreme care is taken to ensure that all of their meat is sourced from RSPCA assured farms with the highest welfare standards ensuring the best taste for their customers.

We currently stock their whole 3kg cooked gammon ham, whole 3kg honey roasted gammon ham and sliced retail gammon hams available in 250g and 500g packs and the whole range is available to view here.Facebooktwitterinstagram