From Farm to Fork
PUBLISHED: 15:25 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:20 20 February 2013
Organic is as organic does... and Neston Park Farm Shop does very well
The heir to the Fuller's Brewery empire is also an organic farmer at the family seat at Neston Park, and Neston Park Farm Shop is the latest addition to the organic ethos operated on the estate.
You see the labels, you taste the food, you know it's local, but unless you frequent farmers' markets you're unlikely to come face to face with the people who produce it. However, all that's changed at Neston Park Farm Shop near Corsham, because as well as producing a good part of what's on offer there at the home farm, this August will see a special Producers' Day, where customers can chat to the people who devote their lives to producing the very best that Wiltshire - and even further afield - can offer in the way of food and drink.
Neston Park started the organic conversion process in 1999. Today, the home farm is completely organic, and the farm shop opened its doors to all that's best in Wiltshire and the Westcountry just 18 months ago. Since then, under its owner, Lady Fuller, and with the support of her very talented team, the shop has gone from strength to strength, bringing under one roof practically everything you might want to stock up with. There are well over 200 product ranges contained within a dozen different sections, ranging from an on-site artisan bakery and patisserie to a full delicatessen. There's a fresh fish section, not to mention the butchery, stocked by Neston Park's own organic meat - beef, lamb, pork, venison, wood pigeon, rabbit and even squirrel. There's a growing market for squirrel, apparently, which has a distinctive nutty flavour, especially when the beech mast is in season. There's also a pheasant and partridge shoot on the estate, the results of which find their way into the farm shop from October to the end of January.
It's a foodies' paradise here and it comes with some entertainment as well, where you can sit in the caf and watch the bakers hard at work in the bakery. There's also a woodland-themed children's play area outside, with animals to stroke and feed, and soon there'll be a woodland walk.
All-in-all, what with the south-facing courtyard outside being something of a suntrap and everything that there is to see and do here, the farm shop has become a bit of a destination point in itself, with customers easily able to spend the best part of a day here. The caf provides hot and cold food, with Sunday lunches on the last Sunday of the month, and plans for a barbecue on one or two Saturdays a month during the summer.
The whole ethos of the farm shop is to be true to the ideal: everything is as local as it can be, even the staff live within a six-mile radius. Paul Castle, the Managing Director, says, "We believe we are one of the few farm shops in the county who actually sell everything on site that they produce - we even put it on the plate, with our bakery and caf, and the range of ready meals that we produce. We do have one further outlet in Bradford on Avon and some wholesale customers amongst the high-quality pubs and hotels in the area but, by and large, the farm shop is the only outlet for the produce reared on the estate. Consequently, the food miles are low, the provenance is absolutely guaranteed. It's good for the local economy... and for the future of farming and the welfare of the countryside."
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