Farm Shop of the Year: Great Food Club Awards 2020
Farndon Fields Farm Shop, Market Harborough, Leicestershire
The winner is Farndon Fields Farm Shop of Market Harborough. It started with a farmer selling a few spuds direct from the field out of his garage. Some 36 years later, it has become a genuine destination shopping experience that remains close to its founding principles of local and seasonal.
Entering the shop, customers see a wonderful array of beautifully arranged fruit and vegetables, much of it still grown on the Stokes family farm in nearby fields. Several other local growers now produce specifically for the shop. There is plenty of information about varieties and what each is best for.
Customers then move to a butchery, complete with new maturing cabinets where Charolais and Aberdeen Angus beef from less than 10 miles away is displayed, along with lamb from the next-door farm.
There is a bakery, frozen section, dairy counter, and a wine and spirit section that again features local producers such as Welland Valley Wines, Warner Edwards and Two Birds. The on-site café is exceptional.
Farndon Fields does a good job of engaging with and listening to its customers. It has thoughtfully expanded over the years to offer one-stop shopping of the utmost quality.
March House Farm at Great Dalby near Melton Mowbray has been successfully selling its meat at farmers’ markets for two decades. In 2018, the owners built a large butchery-focused farm shop on-site, as well as a big, airy, impressive café. They sit next to fields and farm buildings.
All the meat in the shop except the chicken is raised on March House Farm. Their popular sausages, black pudding and salt-beef are produced on-site. This is farming and retail where provenance, quality and welfare are genuinely important. Beef comes from pasture-fed Angus-Fresian crosses and Shorthorns, and cows that single suckle. Many Leicester people will attest to the quality because this is the beef behind the fabulous Crafty Burger in St Martin’s Square. March House Farm Shop also sells a range of excellent locally sourced produce.
At Hackwood Farm Shop near Derby, Georgina and Neil Crofts have done an outstanding job of converting some old farm buildings into one of Derbyshire’s most popular farm shops and cafés. The butchery sells locally-reared Dexter beef, Packington chicken and venison from Calke Abbey. They make their own sausages, bacon and hams, and have expanded their deli offering, which provides high-quality ingredients for their popular café.
The café serves more than 200 afternoon teas a week and you often need to book for breakfast at weekends. “Any café can do a similar menu, but something about the way we do it – local, seasonal food in an honest old building – seems to resonate,” says Neil. “It’s not complicated, it’s just real, and people like it.”
Welbeck Farm Shop sits at the heart of Welbeck Abbey Estate in north Nottinghamshire – a food destination of national significance. The Estate is home to The School of Artisan Food, Stichelton Cheese, plus a celebrated bakery, brewery and a number of small food business start-ups. Welbeck’s first-rate farm shop provides a wonderful showcase for food from the Estate and the surrounding region.
At the heart of the success of this beautifully appointed farm shop is its fine butchery, which provides lamb and game from the Welbeck Estate, pork from neighbouring Clumber Park and beef from five local farmers. Then there is its sought-after bread and, in addition to Stichelton, a stunning cheese selection supplied in collaboration with Neal’s Yard Dairy. Another draw is the in-store raw-milk vending machine.