Tuesday, 26 July 2011

from field to farmhouse: farndon fields.


Imagine sitting in a cosy farmhouse tearoom taking a bite of a deliciously warm roasted asparagus tart whilst sipping on an ice cold glass of Victorian lemonade. You think how convenient it would be if you could have it wrapped up, in a gingham napkin of course, and take it home for tea. Well, at Farndon Fields Farm Shop in Market Harborough you can.

Their try local, buy local shopping experience means that you can visit thinking you want a box of pretty pansies for your garden and discover they grow your favourite Leicestershire strawberries, all in one day.

It started back in 1983 when Kevin and Milly Stokes’s passion for potatoes and vegetables saw the opening of a small shop from their Market Harborough farm garage. By 1998 they had a purpose built farm shop extension, broadening their dairy selection, and making room for a locally stocked bakery.

Five years later and the 2000s saw the introduction of a butchery, cafe and plant centre to their 250 acre farm.

“It all started almost 28 years ago now and has quite literally grown ever since. We now grow over 40 different types of vegetables and 6 varieties of potato,” explained Milly.

Their homegrown seasonal produce currently includes a mouthwatering selection of raspberries, leeks and asparagus; which in this warm weather it can grow up to 6 inches during the night.

“We’ve had a great crop of strawberries this year as it’s been so hot and dry, which has made them really sweet. But then this proves a problem for growing potatoes, as they require really wet weather.”

Their assortment of cheeses for all seasons can be perfect accompanied by a range of alcohol, which boasts Langston Brewery beer, Welland Valley wine and Melton Mowbray Sloe Gin. With their Mediterranean inspired deli opening in the next few weeks, knowledgeable Deli Manager Liz has been sourcing tasty treats from chorizo and salami to an appetising olive bar.

“We’ve recently bought 9 pigs and feeding them on our waste vegetables hoping to begin selling our own pork. So watch this space,” Milly continued.

“Our staff have such good product knowledge and are always providing recipe ideas and hosting food tasters. Next week we’re going to be trialing some curry causes made locally for people to sample.”

Whilst Mike, their butcher, sources the very best of local lamb from Greenfields at Twycross, sponge cake expert Kim is busy in the baking fresh chocolate cakes and Victoria sponges every day for the cafe. Not to mention their cupcakes to conserves and juices to jams that fly off the shelves each week.

And food miles? Well, there are none. Nil, zilch, zero. Everything they sell is either produced by them on the farm or sourced from local farmers and experts around Leicestershire and the Midlands.

“This is what real local should be. We aim to give people a really personal shopping experience and get to taste allsorts of great Midlands produce. We like people to say ‘oh I really like this where can I get it?’ and then instantly be able to rustle one up for them to takeaway.”

“It’s just all about the fascinating process from growing the produce to eating it later on that day.”

Read more about other foodie gems in the Midlands here at Great Food Magazine.

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