The sun shone on us the day the Farm and More team led the bus tours into the Midlands countryside on Monday, 24th February.
We at Agave Blue Marketing were very excited to have the opportunity to take part in the “Growing Farm Retail” tour which took in 6 different but equally fascinating locations.
The first we visited was Oakes Farm Shop in Balsall Common, near Coventry. A genuine working farm, they have achieved so much in such a short time, having only opened their cafe and farm shop last year. The “10 Acre Cafe” is particularly popular in the local community offering breakfasts, lunches and afternoon tea, and a selection of home-made dishes, many of which use eggs from Oakes Farm. They also have deli and butchery counters offering a range of locally produced items, including those from Oakes Farm itself. The fresh farm eggs are a very popular purchase from the farm shop.
We were then surprised to find our bus pulling up outside Leekes’ flagship department store in an out-of-town shopping area of Coventry.
However, we needn’t have worried as, once inside, we were presented with the fabulous Farmers Fayre restaurant and farm shop concession with the store. Farmers Fayre was established by Nicola Reece and this Coventry location is the first of many. They have also recently opened a similar set up within the Leekes in Melksham, Wiltshire and, even more recently, have also opened a smaller location at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. Farmers Fayre focusses on providing meals featuring the freshest and best quality meat and produce from their own and other local farms. As farmers themselves, they also offer a range of fresh meat available for order on-line via their website. It’s worth keeping an eye out for Farmers Fayre calendar of events as they run several seasonal events throughout the year. They also sell a range of fresh produce, including local cheeses, along with gift items and speciality beers, including several made locally.
The third location on our itinerary was the award winning Denstone Hall Farm Shop and Cafe near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. A truly incredible job has been done in only a matter of months by husband and wife team Rupert and Emma Evans (with not a little assistance from Rupert’s Father too!) and what they have here has got to be the pinnacle of role models for farm shops and cafes looking to set up in the future.
The farm shop is beautifully laid out, with its own deli and butchery counters, along with a very approachable and knowledgeable butcher, a range of fresh and local produce, plus a selection of well-chosen and desirable gifts – whether food items, clothing or decorative items for the home.
The cafe is a flexible space which lends itself well to private functions and day-to-day food service alike. It’s well designed, light, airy and looks out over the attractive countryside at the rear of the farm.
The kitchen is modern, spotlessly clean, looks well organised and is open for all to see. The staff are knowledgeable, excellent at customer service and well presented in their Denstone Hall staff uniforms.
We had a most delicious lunch in the cafe – beef bourgignon followed by local, seasonal rhubarb crumble and custard.
The hard work, planning, love, care and attention that has gone into this business exudes from its every pore. It was a delight to visit and we urge you to do so yourselves and soon!
After Denstone Hall, we visited a further 3 locations. More on those coming soon!
In the meantime, the sun is out. There’s no excuse now but to get out on the road and visit these wonderful, individual and equally impressive yet individual businesses. It’s what food shopping and dining SHOULD be all about!