Monday, 9 June 2008

Fruitful year for farm shops

Farmers’ markets might have been at the vanguard of the good food movement in the past decade but a dozen stalls once a month in the town square is no longer satisfying our craving for farm-fresh local produce.

The farm shop has been around for years but is now smartening up its act. More than 234 farm shops have opened in the past year making it the fastest growing retail sector in the UK, a report showed last week.

Many have an authentic on-farm location, are open seven days a week and stock more than just free-range meat and freshly unearthed vegetables (expect peas, broad beans, gooseberries, strawberries and lettuce at this time of year).

Trailblazing farm shops such as the one in Occombe in Devon, Goldy’s in Dorset or Farndon Fields in Leicestershire offer homemade ready meals and ice cream and sell frozen peas, beans and raspberries bagged from last year’s harvest.

Most have a range of local wine, beers and cider. Middle Farm Shop, in East Sussex (01323 815043), sells a 100 per cent Pinot Noir (£11) from nearby Bookers Vineyard. It’s a quaffable cherry tasting red that marries well with the farm’s own chorizo.

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