We have been making an effort to visit as many of our local farmers markets as we possibly can and with some good results but it will be the summer season that brings them forefront & centre. A very good adjunct to the farmers markets are the numerous farm shops dotted about the counties. They seem to offer a consolidated (good range of local products from many producers in one spot) and consistent delivery method (most open 7 days a week versus farmers markets once a month) for many of the great, small producers.
We had read a Guardian article where Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame was asked to name his favourite local farm shops and at the top of his list was the Washingpool Farm Shop in Bridport, Dorset. With a break in the winter gloom we set off in the Land Rover for a bit of a squizzy.
Farm shops, just like people, though genetically the same in their general makeup, offer up a wide variety within the farm shop genre. Some seem to add a bit more bric a brac or gift items to the mix whilst others stick with a strong food centred focus. But so far in our farm shop tiki tour, Washingpool is clearly one of the food centric shops which pleases us immensely.
Washingpool is an 80 acre farm that grows the farm shop veggies (in season) and raises pedigree Red Ruby beef cattle and free range pigs as well as offering numerous Dorset and Southwest regionally sourced products.
And there is lots to do at Washingpool besides shop – there’s the Farmer’s Kitchen cafe for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea, accommodation options, fishing and a series of regular seasonal events (see above).
We were seriously impressed with the local meat selection with not just the Warmingpool lamb for sale but other locally farmed meats such as the beef from Higher Silkhay farm (pic below) and the oh so tempting stuffed pork belly roast (we bought & ate it – praise the lard) from Devon-based Wallace’s Hill Farm (they also raise Bison, Red Deer and Wild Boar). Wallace’s have a farm shop of their own which just may have to be put on the to do list.
And we were oh so happy to see a decent display of local charcuterie which included our mates from Capreolus Fine Foods (we blogged about them in our Bridport Farmers Market piece) who make & offer a superb selection of smoked & preserved meats. And a new kind on the block for us, the Dorset Farms folks whose award winning ham & bacons are most definitely going to be tried.