Farm Shop

I'm a big fan of farm shops. I'm lucky enough to live in an area well supplied with them. All are a drive away though. My nearest one is where I buy huge 20kg sacks of spuds for £4.50. I don't buy them at this time of the year though as the maincrop potatoes will be getting sprouty and soft. We eat less potatoes until the new ones come in. I expect they'll be late this year.

Generally speaking farm shops offer excellent value for money. I can buy 4 pints of unhomogenised milk with the cream on the top from a local dairy farmer for £1.25 a good 30p less than the standard supermarket stuff. They are also nice places to shop, as a regular, I'm always greeted with a cheery 'how are you today?'.

The farm shop I visit most often is a bit further, a ten minute drive. They are fruit growers specialising in apples and pears but also some soft fruit in the summer. Of course the English apples are going the way of the spuds at the moment. Yes, apples store for months but asking them to still be tasty by April is a bit much. I have to buy my children apples or they will be phoning Childline, so I get imported ones at this time of the year. As much as I can I try to buy local first, UK produced second and imported last. This policy landed me with a bit of a dilemma today. At the farm shop now are these.

These beautiful tomatoes are grown by a local grower. Now, to produce tomatoes in England in April an awful lot of heat must have been used. Buying Spanish tomatoes may well have less impact on the environment than buying these hothouse toms from down the road even allowing for the food miles. I don't ever buy imported fresh tomatoes, I always wait for the English ones to appear, but should I buy these unaturally early ones or should I wait until  their proper season ? I'm weak, I bought them. they smell gorgeous. But why does buying one's food have to be fraught with such complicated decisions?

This was an easy decision. The first asparagus. Worcestershire is famous for its asparagus. It's always expensive, it's a luxury vegetable but if you only buy British then I think the expense is justified as the season is so short. I shall be buying two bunches a week until it has all gone.

As I entered the shop a bucket of gaudy parrot tulips caught my eye. I was sorely tempted, but remembered I had a lovely bunch of pale yellow jonquils on my mantelpiece, and at £2.85 a bunch the tulips would have been almost as much as the asparagus. However I spent less than I had anticipated and after I had put my fruit, veg and eggs in the car I returned to the bucket and selected two bunches. The lady in the shop took a look at them and said 'They're a bit droopy,you can have them for £2'. So my wanton extravagance turned out to be a bargain :o)
Aren't they just fab-u-lous? Hooray for farm shops!

To find your nearest farm shop or local producer have a look at this site Big Barn .



  1. Hi Sue, I just noticed that you have various pages on your blog and I going to Have a go. I also really like your whats on the menu and sampler pages. Would you mind if I emulate you and do the same aswell? Theyre great ideas.Lovely veg btw. The tulips are spectacular.Louise

  2. Goodness of course I don't mind Louise! I nicked the sampler page idea from Attic24 in the first place!

    I'm glad you like the menu page, I wasn't sure if anyone was reading it or not. It could do with having a comment facility really but I don't think that's possible. Comments on my menus on the main blog page are more than welcome though, I'd love to know what you think :o)

  3. Hi Sue, Love the flowers. (uh oh... little person has just entered the room...) I'm a big fan of farm shops. We visit the farmers market on the castle terrace here in edinburgh most saturdays. The barbecued meat is enough of a treat to get us there! A x PS I look at your menus. I think anyone who reads blogs is a natural nosy parker... I am! I love to know what everyone else is up to.

  4. The tulips will probably perk up - they are lovely. My neighbour has some in her garden and I have decided to get some bulbs in the autumn.

    I have a day centre for people with learning difficulties near me. I buy eggs (the chickens are running around), lettuce and plants from there. The lettuces are cut while you wait and are covered in greenflies, so quite organic.

  5. Anonymous7:52 pm BST

    Still enjoying your blog Sue! I often buy droopy tulips and a quick prick with a pin at the very top of the stem soon gets them to stand up better. ;-)
    We have a shortage of farm shops here, there being little in the way of arable land but I grow my own veg and buy great meat from our monthly producers' market.

    Barbara x

  6. I love tulips when they are drooping! Yours are a beautiful bargain.
    Enjoy the asparagus.

  7. We have great farm shops in my area too.
    You are right - home grown early tomatoes do use more energy than imports. Also, it uses more energy to cold store English apples over the winter than to fly them in from New Zealand. I have just been fruit shopping and the choice right now is not good unless you are prepared to buy grapes from Chile! Roll on summer - can't wait for English strawberries.

  8. Hi Sue, do you have a linky to the Mexican Black Bean recipe?

    I was inspired to buy asparagus from my 'mobile' vege man who calls on Tuesday. Independent, he buys as much as he can locally - it was lovely!

  9. Not really a recipe Maureen. I fried some chopped onion and garlic with some spices (a Cajun blend), threw in a some cooked black beans from the freezer, some diced carrot, some sweetcorn, added water and passata and put it in the oven for half an hour. Then I cooked some brown rice, drained it and mixed it with the beans. I make a lot of dishes like this varying the beans, the veg and the spices.

  10. Anonymous7:40 pm BST

    Wow those tulips are just stunning!! Your blog is lovely! Thanks for stopping by my blog Sue - that particular scene in Australia with Mr Jackman certainly was a stop what you're doing and pay attention to the screen moment! :)

  11. Those tulips were obviously destined to be yours. And very gorgeous they are too. I bought my first English asparagus today - roll on suppertime!


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