Beadlam Grange Farm, Pockley, York
There’s no mistaking that the farm is at the heart of this year’s Best Farm Newcomer award. As you approach Beadlam Grange, Mark and Jenny Rooke’s herd of golden-red Limousin cattle chew the cud beside you. The idiosyncratic shop is located inside an atmospheric barn, which also houses vintage tractors and the odd calf munching lazily as you browse the farm’s wares.
The butchery counter is a meat-lover’s paradise. Succulent beef from the farm’s own herd is on offer (including Jenny’s Wellies, small but perfectly formed beef wellingtons) alongside a fine selection of lamb and mutton joints.
On a Sunday, the attractive tea room is packed with folk enjoying a Sunday roast, but the kitchens are hard at work all week round, making soups, salads and pies. Beadlam Grange has also followed the recent farm shop trend of introducing ready meals with that homemade touch, ideal if you’re in a rush but you still want to know where your food came from. All in all, Mark and Jenny have created a unique and welcoming place to shop.
East Knitsley Grange Farm, Consett, County Durham
Just over a year ago, the 240-year-old barn that houses the stylish Knitsley Farm Shop was a turnip shed that sheltered the farm’s herd of Limousin over the winter months. Today it’s a thriving business that specialises in niche cuts of meat.
As well as the tasty beef, Edward and Rachael Jewson produce that favorite of rare breed pork, Gloucestershire Old Spot and Suffolk lamb. A range of pates and terrines makes sure that nothing from the animals is wasted, while the Jewson’s corned beef is second-to-none and makes a mean hash in the granary café.
In fact, the cafe takes individual service to a new level. Choose any fresh steak from the butchery counter and it can be immediately cooked to your personal taste and delivered with wonderful homemade chips and fresh salad.
West Craigie Farm, South Queensferry, Edinburgh
0131 319 1048
“If you buy a strawberry in January,” says farmer John Sinclair, “it will taste like a turnip!” John, a soft fruit grower near Edinburgh, is evangelical about seasonality and the need to get the entire family to connect what they eat with how it is grown.
Unsurprisingly for a pick your own farm, Craigie’s Farm Shop is known for its fruit and its ever-growing selection of jams and chutneys. But the pick your own philosophy doesn’t end there – you can even pick your own free-range eggs.
Everything about Craigie’s is down-to-earth and centres on fresh flavours rather than foodie fads. It also boast one of the finest selections of Scottish cheeses around.
Wherstead, Ipswich, Suffolk
01473 786 610
As you’d guess from its name, the Suffolk Food Hall is more of a foodie emporium than a single farm shop. Frustrated that there was no real way for customers to get hold of good Suffolk grub, Oliver and Robert Paul opened the hall in a renovated barn overlooking the River Orwell.
You can browse fruit and veg stalls, enjoy the delights of the wide-ranging deli, smell the fresh bread baked on site every morning, and take in the magnificent views of the sweeping Orwell Estuary from the mezzanine restaurant.
Most impressive is Gerard King’s superb butchery. Here you can buy home-reared Rod Poll beef and locally sourced geese, pork, venison and game. And if you need a drink to go with your meal, you could do worse than visit the beer department, which stocks more than 60 local ales and ciders.
Opening a farm shop when a recession hits is a risky gamble, but it’s certainly paid off for Steve Croot of Croots Farm Shop in Derbyshire. More than 70,000 people stepped through its doors in the first year and a whopping 9,071kg (20,000lbs) of homemade sausages were sold.
Unusually, the farm shop’s main produce is the 100 varieties of herbs that are grown on nearby Farnah House Farm, and every year the shop produces around 30,000 bottles of herb-flavoured oils and vinegars.
Other products are sourced from more than 30 local suppliers, and a visit to Croots isn’t complete without seeing the award-winning Shire horses that are bred on the farm.
Upper Battlefield, Shrewsbury
01939 210 905
It’s hard to believe that Battlefield 1403 has only been open for just over 18 months. The shop is part of an attraction on Battlefield farm in Shropshire, the site of a fierce clash between Henry IV and local rebels. Kids will love exploring the small but fascinating museum that recounts the battle’s story, complete with a gory waxwork of a chap whose right eye has found itself on the wrong end of an arrow.
Hopefully such horrible history won’t put you off your food. The shop is packed with delights, from local ales and preserves to a butchery counter offering the farm’s own lamb and beef, plus locally sourced pork and duck. The tempting range of homemade sausages is also available in the light and airy Sparrow’s café, as part of the lip-smackingly good Battlefield breakfast.
Grange Farm, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire
01652 640 308
You’re left in no doubt how local your food actually is when you visit Uncle Henry’s. Every label lists the food miles it has travelled from farm to shelf. Much is made of the farm’s own large pig herd, with a wide range of cooked hams and haslet, cured gammons and bacon.
You’re likely to discover some interesting new flavours as well. Louise Boughton, the butchery manager, is always striving to create exciting new varieties. This winter saw the arrival of a distinctly boozy banger, packed with cinnamon, spices and lashings of mulled wine. The Black Magic sausage is another unique concoction, combining herb-infused pork with chilli chocolate.
Recently, Uncle Henry’s has also been working hard to produce an extensive range of gluten-free products, with full ingredients clearly marked.
Top Bridge Farm, Pickering, North Yorkshire
01751 475 614
Surrounded by a landscaped herb garden and overlooking bucolic fields of soft fruit, Cedar Barn is already becoming a firm favourite with locals. The latest addition to the shop is a brand new butchery counter, stocking farmers Karl and Mandy Avison’s own Charolais lamb and Aberdeen Angus beef, beautifully marbled to bring out its amazing flavour. Pork is sourced from nearby Trotters in Sherburn.
As well as homemade cakes, pastries and ice-cream, the Cedar Barn complex also includes a café, serving up tasty beef pies and an amazing leek and stilton crumble. If you like something hotter, be sure to try the spicy vegetable curry.