EDIARY  19

 

FEB. 3.

PROSPEROUS  HOME  FARM,  HUNGERFORD,  BERKS

The home of Jethro Tull, founding great-grandfather of agro-industry.  He believed in prosperity, as Ben Gill now believes in profitability. When living at Prosperous Farm, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Jethro Tull begrudged his labourers’ wages so passionately that he invented the seed drill.  It was a brilliant idea, which caught on very slowly. It was another 200 years before agricultural machinery really took off.  I wonder if it will take as long for the pendulum to swing the other way.

I don’t mean back into the dark ages of drudgery and cruelty. There’s nothing wrong with technology in itself.  It is the way we use it to extract the maximum profit from the land and put the minimum back that is destructive.

At Prosperous Farm now, they don’t do that. It is in the front line of progress once again.

They milk 200 Guernsey cows and sell their gorgeous milk, cream and yoghurt from the farm. You can help yourself and leave your money at any time.  All dairywork is done on the farm.

I can’t feel Jethro Tull would have approved.  Or would he?

Dairy farming is under immense pressure in this country at the moment.  To anyone who cared only about profitability, it would not be seen as a good bet. Yet that is a short-term view. When intensive dairy farming has run itself into the ground, we will still need milk. A beautifully managed herd producing a superb product and selling it locally may well turn out to be the future.  Perhaps we are too caught up in the misery of today to see it.

 

HIGHCLOSE  FARM  SHOP,  A4,  near  HUNGERFORD.  www.thefarmshop.co.uk

The website isn’t available at the moment, but the shop, in a purpose-built, centrally-heated barn flourishes, surrounded by well-tended PYO fields.  There’s a cafi too.

They are not very good at saying where their vegetables, fruit or cheese come from.  It would help to know more.

WATSON’S  milk

PROSPEROUS  cream and yoghurt

DAIRY BARN RARE BREEDS,  STOCKBRIDGE,  free range meat.

DEWS  MEADOW  FARM,  E.  HANNEY,  OXON.  Sausages, bacon, black pudding.

JAMES  WHITE fruit juices from Suffolk

ST.  PETER’S BREWERY beers, also from Suffolk.

ANDERSEY  FARM,  LOCKINGE,  OXON.  Free range eggs (expensive but genuine)

Very good quiches sold in the cafi and to take away.

 

FEB. 4

FARMERS’ MARKET  in  CHIPPENHAM,  WILTS.

Chippenham seems to me a depressed place. The market was depressed too, and very cold.  Farms new to me who had braved the weather were:

SANDRIDGE  FARM, LYNEHAM,  WILTS  with delicious free range beef, free range chicken and eggs.

DOWNLAND  PIGS,  LACOCK.  WILTS with a good range of sausages and photos of outdoor pigs

HIGHGATE  FARMHOUSE, WOOTTON BASSETT,  WILTS  with apple juice and chutneys

 

BOYTON  FARM,  BOYTON,  WILTS. www.boytonfarm.co.uk   Caroline Wheatley- Hubbard  took time off from selling boars for export to Holland, cutting meat, fronting the farm, to show me the Tamworths  (the oldest herd in the country). The pigs have a good life on top of the downs, deeply bedded at this time of year, in straw produced on the farm. The Wheatley -Hubbards grow and mill their own feed (buying in only fish meal and soya). The pigs also get a chance to rootle in hazel coppices.  The farm has its own cutting room, and usually, its own butcher.  All their meat is sold from the farm and at farmers’ markets.

Caroline, who has been a teacher, would be more than happy to have school visits.  She can arrange guided tours for groups, and lay on a hog roast as well.

 

FEB. 5

BRISTOL  FARMERS’  MARKET

Some interesting new contacts, notably:

RADFORD  MILL  FARM,  TIMSBURY,  BATH.  www.radfordmill.co.uk

Selling organic vegetables, dairy products and delicatessen.

DRUID  HOME  FARM,  STANTON  DREW,  SOMERSET with organic vegetables and their own free range eggs.

TOWER  FARMS,  LYDIARD  ST.  LAWRENCE, SOMERSET,  with butter, cheese and clotted cream from their own cows.

MOORLAND  FARM  SHOP,  AXBRIDGE,  homebred beef and Ryland rugs.

HAND-PICKED SHELLFISH FROM  DORSET

COMMON  LOAF  BAKERY,  DUNKESWELL,  DEVON. www.commonloaf.com

This website represents all that people fear about a “theological” approach to farming but if you go along with my theory that religions are only languages, there’s nothing to fear.

They make good bread as well.

 

FROCESTER  FAYRE,  FROCESTER  GLOS.

Genuine farm shop on a working farm, with purpose-built cutting room and the delicious smell of pies being made.  They sell their own meat (all free-range), pies and frozen dishes.  They also sell

GODSELL’S  CHEESE,  LEONARD  STANLEY,  GLOS.

WOODLANDS  FARM  YOGHURT,  CHEDWORTH,  GLOS.

 

FEB. 8

BATH  FARMERS’  MARKET

These West Country markets are quite small compared with East Anglia, the South and the East Riding, but what they lack in quantity, they certainly make up in quality.

BATH  ORGANIC  FARMS,  WESTON,  BATH  www.bathorganicfarms.co.uk

A method of selling rather than an individual farm, they produce a very sensible brochure bearing the dreaded name of Jonathan Dimbleby.

WESTWOOD  FARM,  COLERNE,  WILTS.  Organic vegetables, free range duck and hen eggs, chutneys and preserves.

BATH  CHEESE,  PARK  FARM,  KELSTON,  BATH.  www.parkfarm.co.uk

Cheese made on the farm from their own Freisian cows, kept organically.

A square camembert-type, a vignotte-type and a creamy blue.  All three amazingly good, which made me think it’s time we stopped thinking of our cheeses in terms of other nations.  Cheddar is a wonderful cheese (not represented at this market) but it is not the only cheese from Somerset.   Bath cheese claims to have been going since 1801 and I only heard of it today.

CHRIS  RICH,  BATHEASTON,  Organic fruit and veg.

SANDRIDGE  FARMHOUSE  BACON,  BROMHAM,  WILTS. Doing a delicious bacon butty, and they have a farm shop. ? a different Sandridge from the one at Chippenham?  I’ll find out when I go there.

 

I also made two really interesting contacts at CHIPPING  SODBURY  FARMERS’ MARKET:

AVALON FRUIT FARMS,  GREET,  GLOS. Who produce apple juice, cider and perry.  They also have free range hens from WARREN  PARK  FARM  TODDINGTON, keeping their orchards free of pests. They keep sheep and pigs organically too.

BARTON  END  FARM,  CAMBRIDGE,  GLOS, home of the Langland herd of Large Black Pigs.  This rare breed graze outdoors all the year round  and are “loved throughout their lives” their proud owner told me. The Acremans have been keeping their bloodlines going for eighty years and are interested to find that big commercial breeders now want their boars. You can order and collect their pork from the farm 01453 890200 (evenings).

 

The more I see of real farmers producing and selling real food to real customers, the more I think we are at the beginning of a revolution.

Jethro Tull started a pendulum swinging. Most of the revolution that began in his time was healthy and inevitable.  300 years later, the pendulum has reached the unstable top its swing and started to push back different boundaries.

That’s not a terribly good analogy is it?

 

hilary@peterspc.fsnet.co.uk

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