Singing in the Rain

By Roz Hartley

What is it with this weather?

​As I write, the crack of blue sky I was excited about earlier has been obliterated by a thick, angry, black cloud in the shape of an upside-down Donald Trump and fat raindrops are falling on my patio and my evening plans. My washing has been in and out and in and out and, quite frankly, I have not found the hokey cokey as amusing as I used to. The cricket season has not got off to a good start with 6 out of 7 fixtures cancelled due to wet, soggy pitches and don’t start me on what this climate is doing to my hairstyle. 

The only saving grace that I can cling to is that my veggie plot is looking lush and I haven’t had to lug a watering can around every evening although, even that yin, comes with the unhelpful yang of a prolific slug population.

​For anyone organising a village fete or a wedding, frantic weather app checking must have become obsessive and the poor old weather men/women have even been seen to shrug their shoulders in front of the camera and admit to not really knowing if you are going to get sun in Hull and showers in Hove or the other way around.


Chelsea vegetables

I was glued to the weather app last week when I headed up to Chelsea having been offered a ticket to the flower show. My first visit and I was crazily excited. I packed a bag of sun cream, raincoat, sunhat and umbrella just to cover all the options…and yes, I needed them all. Unfortunately, by the afternoon, the rainclouds dominated, the paths had become a muddy mess and the show gardens were hard to glimpse between the myriad of umbrellas and moaning visitors.  I retired to the Pimms’ tent where a single plastic cup of ice, lemonade and a sniff of alcohol set me back a whopping £16. 


​The train ride home got me musing as I stared out at the passing countryside through steamed up windows. It’s good to venture out and about to see the sights every now and then even if it’s just to reaffirm that local is best. A lovely cup of coffee and a beautifully baked slice of something sweet in my local farm shop seems a total bargain after Chelsea and I can stay out of the rain in their snug little café. What more could you need?

​Must dash – the sun is out and my washing needs to shake it all about.

The Humble Egg….or your New Best Friend?

​I remember the excitement of Easter morning, not the going to Church bit or the long interminable lunch (although mint sauce helped!) but the joy of hunting for eggs. My sister and I were let loose in the garden with a little basket each and there they were, little flashes of bright tinfoil, nestled beside the primroses or perilously balanced on the birdbath. 
​The sheer joy of spotting another treat and seeing the little basket filling up as we raced about in the fresh air was intoxicating.  I wonder now whether it needed to be chocolate eggs. Would we have felt as much excitement had we been searching for chicken eggs? I almost think we would have done.
​Fast forward forty years and popping out in the morning to see if Mrs Chicken has laid me any eggs in the garden feels equally joyful. I have a basket in my hand, the sun is shining and nestled in the straw is a glorious brown, speckled egg, still slightly warm, smooth and beautiful…and so much better for me than the egg wrapped in tinfoil!
​The humble egg is one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods. It’s packed full of protein, choline, omega-3s and antioxidants. Plus, 11 different vitamins and minerals, including iron, selenium, iodine, vitamins A, D, E, folate and B12 and the things you can do with it! Poached, boiled, fried, scrambled or mixed with butter and sugar or milk and flour, they are delicious. In bygone days, they were believed to neutralise a swallowed poison, to be soothing to diseased eyes, and to help dislodge fishbones in the throat!
​And eggs are so easy to come by. Every farm shop in the land has beautiful farm fresh eggs stacked on its shelves. Perhaps this Easter, these fresh eggs could be centre stage in the farm shop with the chocolate eggs as backing singers. Let’s draw attention to the humble egg..
  1. Egg personality of the week nestled amongst the hen eggs… just add googly eyes?
  2. An egg hunt with a difference…. hen eggs hidden around the other veg in the shop?
  3. A “how do you eat yours” campaign? If it works for Cadbury, why not the farm shop?
  4. A display suggesting egg-based recipes with other ingredients easily accessible?
As a busy mum, I know that if you put a box of eggs in my face with a little recipe card of ways to cook it, it’s going in my basket! Here’s 50 ways to have eggs for breakfast to get you started. 
Happy Easter!

Kidneys and Powdered Egg, Anyone?

By Roz Hartley

Up in my mum’s attic last weekend (don’t ask!) I came across an old trunk full of photos, postcards and papers which we hadn’t seen before. Hoping for some good old “Cash in the Attic” discoveries, we brought it into the light and started sifting through the mottled, yellowed papers to see if we were millionaires.

A right old trip down memory lane later, but no Turin Shroud, I left clutching a delicate old handwritten book of my grandmother’s recipes which my sister was ready to throw in the bin. I, being rather more sentimental and a sucker for nice handwriting, snaffled it out of the dump pile and brought it home.

​I can remember my Granny well despite being only about five when she died. She was stocky and sturdy with tight, greying curls and always a pearl necklace. She had a twinkle in her eye, a kitchen full of melamine and a strange insistence on toilet paper that looked like tracing paper.


I made myself a big, frothy coffee and settled in a sunny spot to commune with the past… two hundred and twenty-five pages of beautiful, black-ink-penned handwriting. I flicked through, looking for something I fancied cooking;
Kidneys? Not really…. Casserole of fish?.. Could do with a better name!…
Tapioca and apples, boiled fruit cake, veal cake..…erm…. Kiss me quick pudding? Maybe. 


​Every now and then, as I turned a page, not only would I get a strong whiff of aging paper but a little scribbled note would fall out. It was these little blasts from the past which excited me the most. One was a shopping list on the back of a newspaper article from 1949, advertising Pond’s double cleansing cream for “complexions as pretty as almond blossom” and one was a succinct recipe on the front of an envelope, postmarked 1945, to a long-forgotten Mrs Briggs requiring:


1 level tablespoon of dried egg
2 ozs of butter
4 ozs margarine
Half a teacupful of warm milk

I’m not sure what this little nugget would have created but dried, powdered egg featured quite regularly in my Granny’s recipes and, not having heard of it before, I fell down a Google-shaped rabbit hole of wartime recipes.

​Rationing during and after World War 2 meant everyone with a ration book was allowed one real egg a week but you could have a tin of dried eggs every two months (one tin was equal to 12 fresh eggs). (I also learned that if you decided to keep your own chickens, you were no longer allowed your fresh egg ration but you could exchange it for chicken food!)


​Imagine that!? One egg a week! And that was only if they were available. Shoppers, like my Granny, would have signed up with a specific baker, greengrocer and butcher in their local town and would queue up once a week to pick up their rations. Often, they would get to the front of the queue to find that the last egg or loaf or pack of butter had just been given out and there was nothing they could do about it.


Fresh eggs at The Flower Farm 

​I made chocolate brownies last week and the recipe required six eggs. I thought nothing of popping to my local farm shop and buying half a dozen eggs and using them all in one cake. I didn’t have to queue, no one asked me for my ration book, I wasn’t offered a substitute of powdered egg in a tin and neither did I hear the air raid siren go off on my way home.


Fully stocked shelves at Cobbs Farm Shop

​We may be up against high inflation, global warming and doctors’ strikes but our farm shops are full of fabulous fresh food, eggs are plentiful and Spring is just round the corner. Let’s count our chickens and celebrate the good life. Omelette, anyone?

Featured Producer – The Wheat Bag Company

The Wheat Bag Company has been established for ten years and prides itself on being a well-known quality brand, designing and manufacturing well-being and home style products made in the UK from quality fabrics by a team of talented, trained people who are passionate about quality. We use independent artists to design our fabrics which are exclusive to us and our products which make us stand out.

Microwavable wheat bags are our hero products that we first started manufacturing ten years ago. They are filled with English organic wheat and lavender buds and when heated in a microwave, for two minutes, they provide soothing, relaxing comfort to snuggle up with and keep warm and help to soothe aches and pains.

Over the years, we have increased our product range to include hot water bottleseye pillowsdoor stopsdraught excluders and pet bed toppers to name but a few.

Our core customer base is made up of garden centre chains and independents, farm shops, gift shops and department stores and the business is growing year on year. 

If you would like to stock any of The Wheat Bag Company products in your farm shop then please get in touch:
Tel: 01747 840500

Text & images supplied by The Wheat Bag Company

New Year, New Me!

By Roz Hartley

I’ve got a dirty secret.

​I live a simple life in a small cottage in Dorset. I love my garden. I love my cricket. I love my children (not necessarily in that order but, yes, in that order today!) but there is a room in my house which makes most of my friends twitch. The most compulsive of them can’t resist taking a peek into it when they come round. Some of them visibly shudder as they shut the door again and quickly change the subject. Others have offered to come round and help me with it. I pretend it doesn’t bother me but somewhere, deep down, I feel ashamed.


​We’re not talking Fifty Shades of Grey secret room. It’s just my utility room/ crafting room/ general dumping ground. People are coming over for dinner – I open the door and throw the debris in. Online delivery arrives – shove the packaging in there. Stuff waiting for the charity shop – pop a bag in the utility room. The detritus of life has a terrible knack of building up until you can hardly open the door. I dread the question, 

​as I know they are in there somewhere, muddy and manky, under layers of other lost, forgotten paraphernalia. I joke with my daughter that;


Well, not anymore. It’s finally time. New year, new me and all that.

​Some are getting down the gym, some are training for marathons. Some poor fools have given up alcohol and others are learning to dance. I am sorting out my utility room and erasing my dirty secret. It’s the only thing that I can do, for free, that will enhance my life and make me feel like a shiny new me.


Did you try something new? Did it last longer than the second week of January?

​I looked back at my resolutions for last year and the declaration I publicly made in 2023’s January newsletter was to eat more seasonally and buy more locally. I like to think that the promise I made to myself has now become part of my everyday, a shift in habits which I hope is being echoed around the country as shoppers realise that they have the power to choose where they spend their pounds. Meals created from fresh, seasonal, local produce benefit our bodies, our planet and our communities. That’s a big outcome for a little new year’s resolution!


​And how’s my clear up going? Well, I can now open the door so check in next year and I might be able to see the floor.

Featured Farm Shop – Somerset
Newton Farm Shop and Café

​Newton Farm Shop and Café is a family-owned business nestled away on the Duchy of
Cornwall Estate in the picturesque village of Newton St Loe, just a 10 minute drive from the
centre of Bath.


​This little jewel in the crown incorporates a working farm, award-winning farm shop,
traditional butchery, and spacious licenced café with an outside courtyard and children’s
play area.

The Gay family produce their own home-reared meats and homegrown fruit and vegetables for use in the café and farm shop, alongside locally sourced produce, handpicked from local suppliers. They take pride in stocking a wide range of local products thus reducing their carbon footprint, supporting local business and investing in the community.


Newton Farm’s own lamb, beef and pork is sold in the on-site butchery, and fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables in the farm shop. Their own meats and vegetables are also used in the café menu which includes a delightful selection of freshly prepared dishes, all cooked on site, from breakfast through to lunch and afternoon tea.

4th generation farmer, Josh, is passionate about regenerative farming and works with the
land to improve the ecosystem, soil health and crops, thus preserving the land for future


Mon-Sat 9am – 5pm 
​Sun 9am – 4pm

​Local delivery & contactless collections available

Newton Farm Shop
Newton St Loe
01225 873707


If you would like to have your farm shop featured at the top of your county page, please contact

Featured Farm Shop – Dorset
Jurassic Coast Farm Shop


​Participating in a Higher-Level Stewardship agricultural-environmental management scheme, we are proud to say that we are working hard to conserve the local wildlife, protect our natural resources, protect the historical landscape and promote public access and understanding of the countryside. 


​One of our primary focuses is protecting and feeding the wild birds such as lapwing, corn bunting and grey partridge. We also plant pollen and nectar-rich flowers to create a habitable environment for the local bees, butterflies and hoverflies. To date, we have planted 1.2 hectares of trees across the farm with the belief that we are cutting down our carbon footprint and giving back to the countryside.


​We’re excited to announce that we’ve also recently expanded our beloved farm shop. We’ve incorporated a new counter and fridge to better display our meat and local products. Our mission to support local producers remains as strong as ever, and we’ve expanded our offerings to include even more Dorset produced products. You can also grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee from our new bean to cup machine as you peruse our selection.

​We are extremely proud to support other local Dorset farmers and growers and are passionate about sustaining the environment. Whether it be your weekly shop, an indulgent treat or for a dinner party, we provide a one stop shop for everything you need!

Fossil Farm

​01305 853937

Product Review – Mr Filbert’s Fine Foods (Pt4)


The Fabulous Farm Shops review panel have a bit of history with those excellent people at Filbert’s Fine Foods and every now and then they ship us a little trio of new snacks for us to crack open and review. It’s always a good day when we open a box to find Mr Filbert peeking out and this time was no exception.

​Like a lucky dip (but without the annoying sawdust), I plunged my hand into the box to see what goodies we were going to try this time.


​Salt and Pepper Cashews (pocket size)

First out the box was a cute little packet of Mr Filbert’s Salt and Pepper cashews, “oven roasted to perfection then tumbled with sea salt and black pepper for a perfect savoury snack”.


Gosh, I love a cashew! I think of it as the perfect nut. To start with, the shape is ergonomically pleasing, as if the creator was really beginning to loosen up and let his imagination run a little riot. And the flavour – never quite what you’re expecting when you pop it in your mouth.  The texture? Slightly oily but solid and reassuring.

Anyway, I love them just the way they are. So, when I realised that the good folk at Mr Filbert’s have dared to play with perfection, I was slightly concerned. I needn’t have worried.  Of course, Mr Filbert, in his dashing black apron with his shock of carroty hair and winning smile, can be trusted to enhance any snack he turns his wooden spoon to.


This time, he has rifled though his condiments and chosen two beautifully complementary flavours, as old as the hills: salt and pepper. What could go wrong? Nothing! Quite simply a brilliant enhancement. And it wasn’t just me that thought so. Listen to the joy from the panel of Fabulous Farm Shops reviewers:

The cashews retain their creamy, satisfying bite. They still sit in your hand like little magic beans, tempting you to put them one by one into your mouth but now they pack a tantalising punch, urging you to have another as soon as the first one is chewed up and swallowed. I didn’t think a cashew needed anything to take it closer to heaven, but Mr Filbert has done just that.


And the snack-pack size must also be mentioned – 40g of nut-tastic joy in an attractive little pouch. Pop one of these in your pocket if you’re hiking up a mountain, kayaking down a river or just taking the dog for a walk. There is enough in there to give you a fabulous, savoury boost of energy, whatever activity you’re undertaking – and you don’t need to share it with anyone.

Salted Caramel Chocolate & Nut Mix

​Next up, this little packet of joy announces that it “combines salted honeyed nuts with chocolate and Cornish caramel fudge to produce a scrumptious sweet and salty snack”. Now on paper that really doesn’t sound like it should work. Where in the world would you put chocolate covered raisins, salted nuts and nuggets of fudge together? 


I want to know how they came up with this one! I like to imagine that two busy executives at Mr Filbert’s were both snacking en route to the boardroom, hurrying down the corridor when they crashed into each other. Executive A spilt his bag of nuts on the floor whilst executive B dropped her fudge and chocolate. In a scramble to pick up all the bits, and get to their meeting in time, the snacks got muddled and EUREKA! the mix to end all mixes was born.

​However it happened, it’s genius.  Everyone who tasted it on our panel of snackers, loved it.


Mr Filbert describes them as “deliciously indulgent” and he’s not wrong. There is also a really generous serving in each pouch. Pop a packet of these in your picnic basket or backpack and your snack time will reach new heights or put a bowl of these out for nibbles at your next drinks party to get the conversation going. Better than charades!

Mr Filbert’s Artisanal Salami

Last, but not least, our tasting session ended with a snack-sized packet containing two little sticks of chorizo/salami or “premium tender pork with paprika and spices”. The packet also informs us that “the traditional salami is carefully handcrafted and naturally cured to produce an authentic Iberian snack that is high in protein, low in sugar and totally gluten free.”

​There is also a rather welcome suggestion that they are best enjoyed with a glass of IPA beer or Rioja wine. Well, it would be rude not to follow such a piece of advice, so we cracked open a bottle of red and got down to the nitty gritty.

​The packet contains two sticks of salami each about the size of a Sharpie and considered just the right size for a hit of flavour and substance. My son is a salami snack oficionado, having craved serious, strong flavours from a young age, and when he saw these on my table he fluttered around like a moth to a flame. 

​His eyes lit up when I suggested he gave them a go and one disappeared into his mouth before anyone could shout “what’s for tea?”.  He tore into it like Zorro and declared:

​He chewed for a while and murmured:

​Well, that went down well! Other reviewers were similarly pleased with these little sticks of Spanish sausage. One wrote:

​wrote another, who had obviously picked up on the tapas theme (and perhaps enjoyed more than a snifter of Rioja!)

suggested another -rather specifically, but equally helpful!

​I have to add that it was the smell that pleased me the most. I have a nose like a bloodhound and sometimes a really meaty salami can put me off, but this snack has the heavenly scent of paprika, warm and enticing.

So, it was a resounding “Olé” from the Fabulous Farm Shops panel for these savoury delights.


​All in all, another fabulously successful trio of snacks from Filberts Fine Foods. We have yet to try a bad one from these makers and can recommend, hand on heart, stocking a selection of these well-packaged snacks in your farm shop

To read previous reviews click here

If you would like to stock these fabulous little snacks in your shop
​then get in touch with Filbert’s Fine Foods:
by phone 01458 833744
by email
or online

This is not just VEG…

By Roz Hartley

You know it and I know it… eating fresh vegetables, straight from the soil, grown in your own back garden or from the farm down the road, makes your taste buds explode with an extraordinary depth of flavour that can very rarely (I’d like to say never) be matched by a plastic-wrapped, supermarket offering that has been flown or trucked across the globe.
​​I’ve just pulled a home-grown leek from my own teeny, little veggie patch and the fabulous, oniony perfume is still on my fingers as I type this article.

​Yes, there’s a significant amount of mud trapped in its glistening crevices which I’ll need to spend a few minutes washing out, but the payoff is well worth it for the intense flavour that it will give to my soup.

​Leeks are in season right now and are such hard-working little vegetables.

Apart from the complex taste that they bring to a stew, a soup, a pasta sauce, a casserole – they also come with a huge list of health benefits.

​Who knew that they contain flavonoids which protect our blood vessels and polyphenols which protect against cancer?

Thank the Romans, who introduced them to the UK, and believed that eating them could soothe the throat and improve the voice… I feel a song coming on!

The glory of the leek is celebrated nowhere more than in the farm shops spread throughout England. Walk into any one of them today and I guarantee that the display of leeks will have your mouth watering. Lush dark green leaves fading to the beautiful pale green and white bulbs are waiting for customers, freshly picked from the farm.
Picture from Field of Dreams Farm Shop in Suffolk
Eating local, seasonal food should be our battle cry.

Yes, it reduces food miles, reduces packaging, helps the planet but, more than anything, it tastes AMAZING and does your body good. Reaching out to the general public with this heartfelt message must drive more people into the farm shop. 
​Everywhere we are seeing our members promoting the glorious, fresh, seasonal vegetables in their shops, photographing humble, wonky, earthy potatoes and honest, papery-skinned onions.
Picture from Hayhead Farm Shop                                              Picture from Flint & Oak Farm Shop 
One farm shop, Sandy Lane Farm in Oxfordshire, even posted an informative reel on “how to wash your veg”. Consumers used to buying a ready washed, ready-trimmed, insipid, packaged leek from the supermarket may well feel overwhelmed when faced with the fully-clothed variety from the farm so what excellent marketing!

We’ve also seen farm shops offering seasonal recipes to their customers, “how to get the best from your veg” suggestions, what’s freshest this month, number of food miles per vegetable.. lots of innovative ways to  share the love.

Although it might be nice, one does not need a Marks and Spencer’s marketing team or budget to get the message across … 

this is not just a leek, this is a farm shop leek!

​Keep spreading the word, keep growing those veg and keep stocking the shelves! The seasonal eaters out there thank you and we at Fabulous Farm Shops salute you (with a leek, of course!).

Have an interesting story you would like us to share? Contact our editor…

Are you FEELING it yet?

a note from THE editor, Roz Hartley

Christmassy, I mean? I think it gets harder and harder each year to get into the spirit. The tinkle of bells introduces Mariah Carey’s festive belter and all I seem to think about is how much money she must make from that blasted tune, her private cash cow! Cynical, I know.


​The magic that is Christmas as a child seems to be an elusive ideal the older you get. Last year, I pulled my own name out of the sack for our work “Secret Santa” and rather than admitting to it and putting it back in to choose another one, I kept it, bought myself something I actually wanted, wrapped it and looked forward to opening it with a genuine smile. Very sensible, I thought, but not really capturing the Spirit of Christmas!

​Even John Lewis seems to have lost their way this year. Nothing says Christmas quite like a Venus Fly Trap!


​I thought my daughter was losing the festive joy yesterday when she announced that she no longer wants a stocking on Christmas Day. (She is fifteen, after all, but I just assumed this tradition would survive for as long as she is my daughter). She followed it up with “I don’t really need anything LITTLE” which made me chuckle and remind myself not to jump to conclusions. She still wants presents, just not silly little stocking fillers!


Well, she’s going to get one, perhaps more for me than for her.

​I will fill it with useful things – the ubiquitous socks, new pens, a phone charger and mascara – everything a teenage girl consumes on a daily basis – and some yummy little sweet treats from my local farm shop – hot chocolate, yoghurt coated raisins and her favourite little biscuits which we save for special occasions. And she will get in to bed with me on Christmas morning and I will “ooh” and “aaah” in mock surprise at all the things she opens in front of me…because that is our tradition and that will make me feel it! Christmassy, I mean.


Even if it’s only for the actual day itself, the Spirit of Christmas will come, and you’ll find me tapping my foot and raising a glass to Mariah and the great song she created all those years ago.

Product Review – Gunner Cocktails


Our Fabulous Farm Shops Review Panel never shy away from the tough jobs so when an intriguing box arrived at HQ, filled with nifty little cans of Gunner cocktails, we breathed in, dug deep and selected a blue one and a red one each, then watched the clock until it was home time.


Back in our respective homes, as soon as the sun went down (somewhere!), favourite glasses were filled with ice, Gunner cans were extracted from the fridge, selected garnishes were chopped and arranged and a collective PFFFSSSS could be heard as cans were opened and poured.

These eye-catching little cans come in two varieties. Choose your weapon depending on your mood or your taste or your dietary requirement. For the drivers, the dry-Januaryers, the over-indulgers and the non-drinkers…make a beeline for the red-stripe or the SAINT or the “classic effervescent mix of ginger, bitters and lime


For the polite tipplers, the hardened boozers or pretty much everyone I know, get your mitts on a blue-stripe or the SINNER or the “classic effervescent mix of ginger, bitters and lime with a SHOT OF DARK RUM”.

​So are you a Saint or a Sinner?

​Let’s start with the Saints among us…

There’s a pleasing fizz when you pour the contents out of the can and the beautiful amber colour is worth noting. It looks very tempting in a glass…whatever shape you choose to wrap your hand around! ​


​I loaded my fave (and appropriately emblazoned) glass with a tonne of ice, garnished with a wedge of lemon and poured. It looks good and the ice is a recommended addition – not just so you can feel like you’re on a cruise ship as the ice cubes tinkle together– but this drink is best uber-cold.


The first sip is good -a little buzzing around the lips as the ginger hits my skin and a little tickle up the nostrils. I want more but I am not tempted to glug it back. I can imagine taking my time over this, standing at a party making conversations and gradually sipping away, enjoying the tingle of the flavours between each anecdote. ​

​Others felt the same:

​It was a resounding thumbs up from the review panel at Fabulous Farm Shops. Stock this in your farm shop and we think you will have a happy band of dedicated followers. You might even see a few of us in there too, stocking up, as one reviewer concluded:


So could the Sinner have the same effect on us all?

​The website description tells us that the Gunner Original Sinner is mixed with a shot and a half of aged dark rum “for a little more punch”. They call it “the Dark & Stormy of the 21st Century, the perfect “sundowner” for an evening on the terrace, or in your favourite place

​Well, that sounds pretty tempting….

None of us were able to sip our drinks on the terrace as the outdoor temperatures had recently dropped to shrivelling so we made do with a tipple by the fire.

​There is 4.5% alcohol in the can (no added preservatives) just dark rum, which adds a lovely scent to the liquid and the colour is as glorious as the non-alcoholic version. The first sip is warming and wholesome.

​wrote one reviewer, and I know exactly what she meant.

​I was less in tune with this one but I’m glad he was enjoying it!

​The rum adds a subtle flavour, not too overpowering, but complements the gingeryness of the mixer and, poured over ice, creates a really tasty, thigh-slapping drink.


​I think you could happily sip on a few of these over an evening in your own home, at a bring-your-own party or pop a few in your cooler box if you’re out for a bbq or beach picnic. I have to say I’m tempted to keep one in my handbag for the next kids’ rugby match I have to watch. It might take the edge off my frozen toes.


So, it was a double success for Gunners on the night. The recipe may be from the 1800s but the very modern Fabulous Farm Shops’ team thoroughly enjoyed both the Saint and the Sinner and even a few who were not usually keen on rum were converted. Our red seal of approval was swiftly applied to the bottom of our review, and we all metaphorically clinked our near-empty glasses.


To order your Gunners Cocktail, just get in touch
Call or email Edward on 07516 741817


If you have a product you would like us to review, please contact

Comfort Food, Anyone?

a note from THE editor, Roz Hartley

Oh my gosh, it was chilly this morning. When the alarm went off at a stupid number that started with a six and I opened one eye to total darkness, the thought of throwing off the covers and actually getting up was more unappealing than usual. Sure enough, peeking through the curtains, I saw there was a frost on the barn roof in the field opposite me and fat, fluffed up birds sitting on the wires strung between the telegraph poles, keeping their feet warm.


​When the season irrefutably changes from summer to autumn and the woolly socks come out, not only do I start to consider lighting the wood burner and adding another layer to my duvet but my need for heavy-weight comfort food becomes a slight obsession. I find myself leafing through cookery books salivating over unctuous stews and boiling broths, gooey chocolate cakes and creamy mashed potato. Let’s face it, food is the most primitive form of comfort.


​I caught the tail-end of a Nigella Lawson cooking show this week which I sucked up like a thirsty man in the desert! She wafted about in her incredibly beautiful kitchen whilst making a brie, fig and prosciutto sandwich. The photography was as close to inappropriate as you can get on a cooking programme with slurpy, dripping fingers poking little bits of melted cheese into the corners of her lipsticked-mouth but the sheer quality of the ingredients was what got me.  


​The ripened fig was nestled in a fruit bowl of similarly delicious looking fruit, no plastic wrap and no supermarket stickers. The prosciutto that Nigella lifted from her immaculate fridge was wrapped in brown, waxy paper from the delicatessen down the road and looked ostensibly incredible and the brie was perfect, oozing and creamy, just like it would be from the cheese counter at my farm shop, not solid and cold from the chiller cabinet in the supermarket.

​She popped them all in between slices of floury sourdough and proceeded to fry the whole lot in a chunk of yellow butter the size of a small country and my mouth dribbled with unfettered desire. I checked no-one heard the small moan that escaped from my lips.


As George Bernard Shaw famously wrote; “There is no sincerer love than the love of food” and in that moment I loved that sandwich more than my children and wished, not for the first time, that Nigella was my neighbour who kept knocking on my door to taste test her food.


​The look of food is just as important as the taste, perhaps even more so, as it hints at the joy to come, the pleasure we associate with eating and elevates the experience from a simple need to fuel our bodies into the intense joy of devouring a good dish.  As Gianfranco Perri (founder of Just Gourmet Foods) wrote in Speciality Food Magazine this month;

“it is .. important for independents to build a multi-sensory experience for the customer.  Food shopping shouldn’t be a sterile process, and we can be positively inspired through all our senses. Good food retailing is an art and one to be indulged with visual impact, smell, taste and through the positive emotions that a customer will hopefully leave your shop with.”

​That’s it…right there. I want to walk into my local farm shop, grab a basket and fill it with food that wouldn’t look out of place in Nigella’s kitchen. Comfort food is going to keep us warm this week (and hopefully delay the central heating going on for a little bit longer!). After all, I’d much rather spend my money on figs and cheese than gas.


Have an interesting story you would like us to share? Contact our editor…

Featured Farm Shop – Warwickshire
The Farm Shop Bidford


At Bidford Farm Shop, we take immense pride in being a true farm-to-table destination. Our produce is sourced directly from our own family-owned farm and a network of trusted local farmers and artisans. This ensures that every item you find in our shop is not only fresh but also sustainably grown, ethically sourced, and bursting with flavour, with super low food miles on the clock too! 

​Our shelves are stocked with a wide variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, carefully selected to ensure the highest quality and taste. From juicy Evesham strawberries in the summer to hearty Bidford pumpkins in the Autumn, our offerings change with the seasons, allowing you to experience the very best of what each season has to offer.

​We offer experiential shopping, where you can pick your own pumpkins and sunflowers in the summer too – something that all of the family (Dogs too, on leads!) can get involved with, making memories that last.


​We are new kids on the block, only opening the Farm Shop in 2022, but we’ve been farming the land here for generations – and now we’ve created a hub for the community to purchase their fresh fruit, veg, meat, dairy – even cake and ice creams!

​Our knowledgeable and friendly staff are always on hand to assist you in finding exactly what you need and provide recommendations based on your preferences. We prioritize a personalized shopping experience, ensuring that you leave our shop not only satisfied but also inspired to create amazing meals with our fresh, high-quality products.

Nestled in the heart of picturesque countryside, Bidford Farm Shop is your go-to destination for all things fresh, local, and delicious. We have plenty of free parking on site too – so no worrying about finding a space!

​Bidford Farm Shop is not just about fresh produce—it’s a hub for supporting local artisans and their crafts. Browse through our small selection of handcrafted goods, which change regularly, in line with the seasons and as new businesses come on board.  By purchasing from our shop, you contribute to the livelihoods of these talented individuals and help sustain a vibrant local community.


​We can create hampers for you – for your own use, or to give as gifts, let us know what sort of thing you’d like in it and we’ll create the magic. 

​As well as the farm shop, we have an annual Maize Maze – which brings families together to challenge their map-reading or their intuition- making a fun day out with the maze at the centre of it all, We also have a horsebox trailer, delivering fabulous refreshments and (very!) free range ducks and chickens that always delight visitors. 

​Wednesday – Saturday 10am-5pm 
Sunday 10am-2pm

 The Farm Shop
Bidford on Avon
Wessons Farm, Grafton Lane
Bidford on Avon
B50 4DU
07793 843935

Featured Farm Shop – Leicestershire
Stoughton Grange Farm Shop


Stoughton Grange Farm Shop is a charming farm shop located in Leicester. The shop offers a wide range of fresh and locally sourced produce, including fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products. The farm shop prides itself on its commitment to sustainability and ethical farming practices, ensuring that all of its products are of the highest quality.


In addition to its fresh produce, Stoughton Grange Farm Shop also has a delightful café that serves delicious homemade cakes, sandwiches, and hot meals. The café is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, offering a cozy and welcoming atmosphere to enjoy a meal or a cup of tea. 

One of the standout features of Stoughton Grange Farm is its friendly and knowledgeable staff. The team is always on hand to help customers with any questions or recommendations, and they take pride in providing excellent customer service. 


​Overall, Stoughton Grange Farm is a must-visit destination for anyone in the Leicestershire area. Whether you’re looking for fresh produce, a tasty meal, or just a friendly chat, the farm shop is sure to exceed your expectations.

If you would like to have your farm shop featured at the top of your county page, please contact

Lemberona –  “This is how Nature Tastes!”
organic dried fruits, nuts, legumes & spices


Lemberona are totally focused on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the planet – we always have been.  In fact, our PlantLife brand of dried fruits and nuts is one of the most sustainable and zero carbon emitting brands you can stock in your store.  ‘How can that be, as the goods are not from the UK?’, we hear you ask.  


​So let us explain.  The first point is that the UK climate does not support the growth of mature fruits in our range, such as sour cherries, white and black mulberries, goji berries, almonds, pomegranates.  


​The trees or bushes may grow here in the UK, but they will not produce a harvestable crop, without substantial carbon emitting, artificial environments.  So, the UK must import them from somewhere.  Many PlantLife products grow in the wilderness of the mountains near Samarkand in Central Asia and are harvested by hand. The air is pure and snow melt from the foothills of the Himalayas provides the necessary water for plants to survive. You would not see a chemical or pesticide within several hundred miles.  Most items grow on or around the ancient silk roads of central Asia, which are still just dirt tracks as they were when Marco Polo travelled them in the 13th century


Lemberona has an association with Fairtrade farmers or harvesters of wild produce.  They are paid a premium wage and pick the crops under Uzbek Government license when their goods are weighed in at the collection point.  


​Goods are then transferred to a factory on the outskirts of Samarkand, where they are dried using 100% solar energy.  In fact, the brand was called ‘The Pearls of Samarkand’ for over a decade.  The drying process concentrates the nutritional value of the fruits and reduces the weight by around 90%, at the same time preserving the product for many years when stored correctly.  Lemberona also planted over 300,000 trees on the slopes of the Pamir mountains, which not only absorb carbon, but prevent landslides.  At this stage, PlantLife products have only absorbed carbon, but they will emit a small amount when the goods are transferred to Austria for packing.  The packing facility also runs off solar energy.  Lemberona asked Anthesis to measure our carbon footprint and they concurred that PlantLife does in fact have a negative carbon footprint – so no net emissions. But even better news, incredible intense flavours and quality.

​So, if you sell the PlantLife brand you are providing your customers with very healthy organically certified products as well as supporting a very ethical business in every respect.

For more details,  please get in touch on
Visit our website at
Or call us on 01832 270196

Article supplied by Lemberona


a note from the editor, Roz Hartley

For the past few years, I have driven past this sign on my way to work and watched as the price of horse manure has steadily dropped. It used to read £1 a bag and the pile of large plastic bags, full to bursting with horse poop, would entice passers-by to fill up their car boots with steaming manure to sprinkle on their roses or veggie beds. Obviously, the pile wasn’t going down as quickly as the seller required, so soon afterwards, the price dropped to 50p a bag.


​Driving by last week, I noticed that the sign had once again been updated. The price of horse dung has hit an all-time low in this neck of the woods as it is now FREE to anyone who can be bothered to lift a bag and pop it in their car. Free!! It seems whilst prices rise in pretty much every other market, from grain to petrol, from rents to cheese, there exists one place where you can grab a bargain – pony poo!


​I’m sure a few people were excited by the freebies at the side of the road. The word “FREE” can make a person do all sorts of out of character things. I feel my fingers twitch when I see a “BUY ONE GET ONE FREE” (or the delightfully named BOGOF offers) in my local supermarket. Who else comes home clutching two bags of doughnuts when really all they went in for was a box of matches? It’s false economy really. No one needs two bags of doughnuts …. It could be argued that no one really needs ONE. The word FREE makes us lose our rationale and gather up stuff that we ordinarily wouldn’t look twice at.

​I am trying to be a better shopper. I am trying to not get sidetracked. Just because horse poop is free, doesn’t mean I automatically put some in my car boot and so neither should I pick up bags of doughnuts.


​Freebies in supermarkets are just the tip of the destructive pricing model iceberg that lures consumers into expecting to pay less and less for the food. The reality behind the BOGOF is that producers are not being paid fairly for their hard work, their own profits are being squeezed into non-existence and food production in the UK is shrinking as a result. 

“Farmers cannot keep feeding us if they are denied commitment and security and are not making a fair, reasonable profit”

says the eloquent Guy Singh-Watson of Riverford.

​Everything should be pointing the conscientious shopper to the farm shop where the supply chain is short and the pricing fair. We’ll keep shouting about you and fuelling the revolution! Shoppers… turn your back on those BOGOFs and get down to your local farm shop. A bag of free horse manure to the first ten customers through the door.


Have an interesting story you would like us to share? Contact our editor…

Featured Farm Shop – Surrey
Flower Farm Bistro & Farm Shop


​We are Flower Farm, a family-run farm since 1974, with cattle, sheep, pigs, turkeys, chickens, fruit, and vegetables! We grow a wide range of pick-your-own crops including strawberries, raspberries, plums and Maris Piper potatoes (which are now being grown for the first time in 30 years!). 

​Our award-winning farm shop has a butchery with meat from ours and one other local farm, a deli with handmade products, an abundance of fresh produce and shelves lined with artisan favourites. We also have an online shop with delivery and collection! 

​Every Friday and Saturday, our fishmonger, Stefan, sells fresh fish from his stall outside the shop. Also, on these days, we have freshly baked artisan bread and an array of fresh flower bouquets. 


​At Christmas, you can order our farm-reared Supreme Wirrall turkeys which are reared right here at Flower Farm.

​The Flower Farm bistro is open every day for a wide range of dining, including a variety of build-your-own breakfasts and lunchtime favourites. Every Friday and Saturday we are open until 11 PM, with Flower Farm reared steaks and fish from Stefan our fishmonger! 

​At Flower Farm, we place great emphasis on sustainable farming practices, responsible sourcing, and supporting local producers. Our shelves are filled with the finest organic fruits and vegetables, dairy products, handcrafted preserves, freshly baked goods, and so much more. 


We take pride in showcasing the hard work and dedication of our local farmers, artisans and growers, fostering a deep connection between our customers and the land from which their food originates.

Opening Times:
9am-6pm daily

Flower Farm
Oxted Road
01883 742288

If you would like to have your farm shop featured at the top of your county page, please contact

Product Review-Mr Filbert’s Fine Foods (Pt 3)


The lovely people at Filbert’s Fine Foods have been down to the Post Office again and sent us another box of snacks to review. I feel like Mr Filbert, with his rainbow selection of aprons (a different colour for each snack packet) is almost part of the family. Certainly, his exciting and varied selection of snacks has been making an appearance in my snack cupboard, the children’s lunchboxes and my weekend picnic basket with notable frequency… but here were three more flavours and textures which were new to the household.. and to the Fabulous Farm Shops Review Panel.  


​Step forward:
Café Espresso Coffee, Chocolate and Nut Mix
Spicy Barbecue Crunchy Corn
Moroccan Spiced Almonds

Mr Filbert’s pride themselves on seeking out new and delicious (and slightly unusual) flavour combos and these little packeted nuggets possibly top that list. Mr Filbert is on the front of this beautiful packet sporting a cappuccino-coloured apron and offering a “luxury trail mix”. 


​Forget boy scouts on a muddy hike, I’m immediately imagining a deluxe safari yurt with a pure white mosquito net draped over my luxurious king-sized bed. In my head, I’m a tad peckish, lounging like a maharaja across said bed, popping decadent snacks in my mouth – just to boost my energy levels before heading out to spot giraffes. 

All this just from the words “luxury trail mix” – that and the beautiful, succulent, glossy photographs of gleaming “mixed nuts, chocolate coated coffee beans and caramel pieces” featuring on the front of the packet. 


Filbert’s Fine Foods do a grand job of titillating photography and the packet would be extremely hard to resist lined up on a farm shop shelf. These snacks get the juices flowing well before the packets are even opened and the contents poured into a bowl.

Can the taste and experience live up to my imaginary scene? Absolutely! There was a resounding “hell, yeah!” from the review panel for this snack.


Spicy Barbecue Crunchy Corn

​So far, so good. That packet of trail mix had been an absolute, unanimous smash. Snack pouches were going on reviewer’s Christmas lists. Could the rave reviews last? 

​Step forward the Spicy Barbecue Crunchy Corn.

The packet looks clean and fresh and enticing with its close-up photos of crunchy corn kernels interspersed with some silver glitter giving it the jazz hands. The description is pretty tempting too…” crunchy corn kernels .. gently fried and tumbled in a spicy bbq sauce to create a gluten free deliciously high fibre snack!

​The pouch is the perfect size and the volume of kernels is very decent for a roaming snacker. As with all of Mr Filbert’s pouches, they are perfect for picnic or a lunchbox or just to pop in your pocket for a long journey, but they would be equally at home on the beach blanket or at a drinks party. They really have thought it through beautifully.


Moroccan Spiced Almonds

A little palate cleansing took place and the review panel moved on to the third and final pouch. It is worth noting how easy these pouches are to open. I have had my fair share of tussles with packaging in the past. I have sliced fingers on tough foil or, like a caveman, resorted to tearing plastic with my teeth. None of this with Mr Filbert’s. The pouches tear open like a dream and open up to pour out their contents with ease. A small point to note but it certainly adds to the whole enjoyment. No-one wants to work up a sweat opening their snack!

​Back to the almonds…. 


​These are one beautiful snack. The glossy nuggets shine in the light, a beautiful colour and shape.

I knew what she meant. I was aware that a little happy squeal escaped me when I saw them nestling in their bowl. My neighbour popped in shortly afterwards, possibly alerted by the noise or perhaps the scent of “the warm chilli flavour with a contrast of cool mint” and she pulled up a chair to join in the tasting.

Looks like the entire review panel, plus neighbours, had found their favourite. These Moroccan Spiced Almonds won a Great Taste Three Star Award last year and the Fabulous Farm Shops review panel are not going to argue with that. Their mouths are too full anyway!

So, if you’re a farm shop wondering whether there’s a space on your shelf for these pouches, we suggest you make a space. They are very hard to resist, look good, taste great and are refreshingly different and, just as it says on the logo, “a dash more delicious”.

If you would like to stock these fabulous little snacks in your farm shop then get in touch with Filbert’s Fine Foods:
by phone 01458 833744
by email
or online

If you have a product you would like us to review, please contact

Product Review – Neve’s Bees


The office was buzzing (pun intended) when a box of goodies arrived from Neve’s Bees ready for a product review. When the cardboard flap was lifted, it was like a summer meadow had been delivered to our doorstep, with beautiful little recyclable metal containers emblazoned with brightly coloured stickers. Everything in the box looks like it has been designed to bring maximum joy and certainly the review panel were excited to give these little pots a go.


​Personally, I’m not much of a beauty product girl. Having suffered terribly, in the past, with eczema, I am very wary of what I put on my skin and my normal beauty routine comprises a warm flannel and an early night, but I had read up a little bit about Neve’s Bees products and understood that they are 100% natural, made using the purest natural plant oils and butters and beeswax. I didn’t hesitate to chose my trio of cute little pots.


​Neve’s Bees Hand Salve

​The largest of the trio is the Neve’s Bees Hand Salve which comes in six different evocative scents (again all naturally fragranced) or one completely plain and unfragranced. There is even a specific one for men with “a subtle fragrance of zingy grapefruit with woody cedarwood “. Grrrrr!


One reviewer made a beeline (pun intended) for the YlangYlang and Patchouli pot, broke the seal and got stuck in. The scent was fresh and dreamy. Her eyes closed as she inhaled it deeply. She smiled. We witnessed the beginning of a beautiful relationship as she commented on the deeply pleasing appearance of the salve in its little silver pot. It is smooth and tempting and seems a shame to sully the surface, but she couldn’t help but rub a finger across the top. 

​Slightly oily to the touch, one does not need much but it makes an immediate impact.  She rubbed it into the back of her hand and it glistened for a moment and then began to sink into the skin.


I couldn’t wait any longer and opened my own little pot of Lemon and Lavender. The scent is subtle but very clean. The lemon keeps it fresh and the lavender is present but not cloying. I was transported back to opening my grandmother’s airing cupboard and admiring her beautifully layered and pressed cotton sheets, a gentle, flowery scent hanging in the air.

​I swirled my finger around the pot and applied it to my thirsty skin. I could almost hear my hands thanking me for finally giving them a little care and attention. 

​Others felt the same. 


​These little pots are the perfect size to slip into your handbag or purse, pocket or backpack and keep handy for daily use. They are made in small batches and without any preservatives, so their use-by-date (about a year) is written on the back of the pot. 

There’s plenty of salve in a pot and a little goes a long way. And you don’t have to just keep it for your hands. I popped a bit on my knobbly old elbows and they definitely look less like walnuts than they have for a while! I can see this hand salve finding a way into my life and, I would go so far as to say, that I might have to add another step to my beauty regime:

1) use Neve’s Bees Hand Salve

​Neve’s Bees Lip Balm

Next on the table was the lip balm and who doesn’t love a lip balm? I am frequently scrabbling around in the bottom of my handbag for something to ease the horrible feeling of a tight, cracked mouth. 


Laid out on the table were the most adorable little tins with cheerful packaging and tempting flavours. We circled our prey, eyeing each other up, whistling the theme tune to a Western. Should we choose the honey vanilla, the buttermint, the lemon & lime, the sweet grapefruit or the rosey? It was more enticing than a trip to the ice cream parlour.

I shot from the hip and picked up the honey vanilla, broke the little paper seal and slid back the tin lid. The scent was lovely – subtle and pleasant – a suggestion of vanilla rather than a full-blown candle shop. The little cake of balm is smooth and attractive and, again, seemed a shame to blemish with a finger, but my lips were in need. I smoothed on a healthy fingerful and rubbed it in.


​This is good balm! It felt wonderful.

​Other reviewers had similar thoughts.

There was a slight debate about which flavour was the best but no conclusion was reached. Some love lavender, others prefer lemon. I was very happy with my honey vanilla. It’s just as well Neve’s Bees have come up with so many options, including unfragranced, for those who like it au naturel.

​Whichever little tin floats your boat, you can rest assured that it is packed with pure, natural balm and, like us, you’ll be very happy with the way it makes your lips feel.

​Pucker up!


​Neve’s Bees Cuticle Butter

Last, but not least, we each helped ourselves to a pot of cuticle butter. Similar funky, joyful packaging, sporting bright oranges on a blue background, covers a small round metal tin. This cuticle butter only comes in lemon & orange and what a smell!

​Everyone’s reaction was the same – beautiful! My nostrils couldn’t get enough and I became slightly light-headed as I inhaled hard. It really is a lovely mix of citrus and worth having in your pocket on a long journey just for the scent alone – to cover up any unpleasantness in your surroundings!


​The panel of reviewers was a mixed bunch, some frequently indulging in manicures, others more at home with their hands in a compost heap than a salon, but everyone knew what to do. They rubbed a little bit of the butter onto their nails and cuticles and sat back to admire them.

​I felt a bit like a 1950’s housewife as I stuck my hand out to admire my shiny nails and watched my glowing skin slowly absorb the waxy butter. Slightly greasy at first, it softens the cuticle and allows you to gently ease them back away from the nail. It was a very pleasant experience – so good, I shared it with my toes!


So, there you have it. It’s unanimous from the panel at Fabulous Farm Shops. These little pots of loveliness are worth giving a go. Buzz on over to the Neve’s Bees website to see all the gorgeous little pots for yourself and get some flower power on your skin.

Neve’s Bees is very keen to grow in the retail sector and offers excellent POS merchandising and generous margins, so if you are a farm shop looking for some flowery magic for your shelves then email Julie to find out more.


If you have a product you would like us to review, please contact

SVVL – for Labels, Packaging & Printing

“You Think It. We Label It”

​SVVL specialises in producing and printing bespoke labels for all sectors of the food and drinks industry. With almost 30 years of experience in the label and packaging industry, we have a unique ability to produce high-quality bespoke products. 

​All our products meet our clients’ own specifications. Our in-house team will meet all individual requirements to promote your brand and business.


​In addition to the above, we offer bespoke boxes and paper bags in all sizes printed to individual requirements. This is an ideal way to promote a company and its products.

For more details,  please get in touch with
Visit our website at
Or call us on 01245 524473

article supplied by SVVL

If you have a service you would like us to promote, please contact

Featured Producer – Woodlets Briquettes

Woodlets Briquettes are the new hot thing
​for your wood burning stove – so cut out the logs!

Woodlets Briquettes are good for your fireplace, your stove, your pocket – and the environment. They burn hotter, cleaner, are cheaper to buy and are much easier to store and handle than logs. In the UK today, change is underway as customers wake up to the benefits of briquettes. Once you have tried Woodlets Briquettes, you will never go back to burning logs. In short, you get more heat for your money.


Woodlets Briquettes produce more heat than logs and burn for longer. With moisture levels of less than 10% it makes complete sense to use them for wood burning stoves – they burn better and won’t cause chimney and flue problems. And they deliver around 50% more heat for each pound spent than logs.

With better burning properties than a traditional log, just one Woodlet Briquette will burn longer and at a much higher temperature. One briquette can last up to four hours.

Woodlets Briquettes for wood burning stoves is the obvious choice.



  • Woodlets Briquettes leave about 1% of their volume as ash – so no more emptying the stove every time you have a fire!
  • You can split Woodlets Briquettes by hand for smaller stoves
  • Woodlets Briquettes are accredited with Woodsure’s Ready to Burn logo and have a moisture content of well below 10%.
  • Much cleaner burning so you don’t get the tar problems associated with unseasoned firewood.
  • Woodlets Briquettes will expand if they get wet – so store them in a dry place.
  • Woodlets Briquettes burn at a very high temperature. Be careful not to exceed your stove’s heat capacity

How are Woodlets Briquettes made?

Woodlets Briquettes are made by applying 10,000psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure to woodchips. They are entirely natural – the lignin molecules in the wood melt under the pressure and bind the wood chip together to make the finished briquette.

Woodlets Briquettes are produced in Scotland from wood sourced within 60-miles of the factory where they are made. Even then, only wood that is left behind (the ‘lop and top’ if you like) is used to make the briquettes after the sawmills and timber merchants have taken away the best parts of the tree.

Remember, like wheat, barley and oats, these wood plantations are a crop – but on a 20-year rotation, not an annual one. These trees were only ever planted to be used in the timber industry – once they are harvested they are replanted.


Are they good for the environment?

There is currently a great deal of publicity regarding wood burners and wood burning stoves which begs the question are wood burning stoves good or bad for the environment?

A wood burning stove is regarded as a sustainable heating method – it uses renewable energy rather than fossil fuel. But how good they are for the environment depends on how old your stove is and what you put in them.

Wood is a renewable energy source, not a fossil fuel. Wood is plentiful and an excellent environmental choice, especially if it comes from sustainably resourced FSC® (Forestry Stewardship Council) managed UK forests.

Woodlets Briquettes have the stamp of approval from the UNESCO Biosphere in Galloway and Southern Ayrshire – the only globally recognised badge for sustainability and all of the forests where the wood is sourced are FSC® approved.


What about emissions?

Wood burning stoves produce fewer emissions if you use Woodlets Briquettes.

All forms of combustion produce emissions and the use of a wood burning stove is no exception. However, a correctly used and maintained, modern wood burning stove is a very low emission option – and especially if you use Woodlets Briquettes.

​In May 2021, new legislation meant that ‘wet’ wood with a higher than 20% moisture content and pre-packaged house coal should not be sold or bought in England. Instead, homeowners have to buy wood that has a certificate stating that it contains less than 20% moisture and labelled with the Ready to Burn wood logo.

Woodlet Briquettes have the badge of approval from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and carry the Ready to Burn logo.

There’s no denying that you can’t beat the warm and cosy ambience that a wood burning stove offers and they offer a cost-effective heating option – but make sure you know what you’re putting inside it!


19 Ladywell Avenue
Grangestone Industrial Estate
KA26 9PF
07826 966956

Text Supplied By Woodlets briquettes

If you have a product you would like featured, please contact

On the Cusp of Autumn

By Roz Hartley

I have just spent a wonderful weekend on Exmoor where the wild ponies nibbled amongst swathes of bright purple heather and the enormous skies changed from blue to white to a startling shade of black from minute to minute. There was a definite chill in the air and the hedgerows, laden with ripening blackberries, reminded me that the summer is drawing to a close.


My runner beans have pretty much done all their running and the tomatoes are ready, juicy and red. My corn on the cob are swollen, tips papery, and my chillis are feisty. I don’t have much in the ground now except some skinny leeks which will hopefully beef up over the coming months and be a lovely surprise when I’m racking my brains for a winter lunch.


​For me, this time of year is always bittersweet with the school holidays coming to an end and the September routine set to begin again – the freedom of the summer being replaced by the Monday to Friday regime. For the farm shops, I’m sure the summer will have been a busy one and now the crescendo to December begins. Ordering and planning for the festive season must make the march of time accelerate.


​I hope, in amongst the routine, you give yourself the chance to stop for a minute, look up at the sky, pick a blackberry from the hedgerow and remind yourself what a great job you’re doing! Or go one step further and take a whole day off. 

I can highly recommend Exmoor! ​

Maya Angelou

And, as I reminded my colleague today, ​it will all be there when you get back!

Have an interesting story you would like us to share? Contact our editor…

Digging Deep


I’ve watched my fair share of tennis this month. ​

Wimbledon sneaks up on me every year and I marvel at how July has come around again so quickly. The fortnight brings little pots of strawberries and cream, line judges in natty white trousers, Tim Henman in the commentary box slightly aggravated by John McEnroe and an endless stream of incredible tennis matches which suck you in and chew you up.


​I turn the TV off at the end of the day exhausted by the sheer brilliance of the underdog – those seemingly tireless players who may be two sets down but somehow find the energy, bravery and downright bloody-mindedness to dig deep, shout at the sky, screw up their fists and fight back.  

​I am in awe of their resilience, their tenacity and their inventiveness as they hammer down an ace or pirouette towards the drop shot, find a new impossible angle and begin again, a point by agonising point, climb back to victory.


​Not dissimilar, I feel, to the hundreds of pioneering independent farm shop owners and artisan producers that we celebrate here at Fabulous Farm Shops.

​Let’s face it, life has been tough over the last few years. The unprecedented madness of the pandemic was followed by crazy energy price hikes and a cost-of-living crisis, all to a backdrop of cut-price supermarkets and endless BOGOFs… and yet, here you are, digging deep.  

​We, at Fabulous Farm Shops HQ, are constantly amazed by the energy of this community and thrilled by the re-invention employed to combat the retail climate. Expanding your farm shop with a café showcasing all that is fresh and local is your ACE. Offering a refill service or a vegetable delivery scheme is your DROPSHOT. Showcasing your local ice cream producer in a cabinet instore or a coffee van or fishmonger on your courtyard is your BACKHAND SLICE. 


​We sit in the front row applauding and whooping your efforts and hope with all our hearts that the clouds clear, the sun comes out and you can throw your sweat bands into the crowd and lift the trophy.

Have an interesting story you would like us to share? Contact our editor…

Featured Farm Shop – Devon
Copplestone Farm Shop


​This little gem of a farm shop reopened back in March 2023 with new owners who have steadily expanded the offering. They are now proud to say that they have goodies on sale from over 40 local producers and suppliers. 


​Lucy and Michaela opened Copplestone Farm Shop because they felt there was a real need for what they could offer – good, honest, local food in a happy, sociable, friendly little shop. And to date, they have been proved right with locals and visitors supporting the farm shop and all that it has to offer.

​There is a fabulous selection of products now on sale from fresh, local fruit and veg, to hot pasties, biscuits, nuts and fudge. There is an ample supply of local meats and sausages, and they aim to grow their selection in the months to come. 

Everything you need for breakfast

Everything you need for tea

They use a local coffee supplier to serve hot drinks, and various local cake makers in their extremely tempting “serve to go” cake cabinet. There are even outside benches or seating inside if your visit turns in to a slightly longer affair.  

The Copplestone Farm Shop has become a social hub for the local community and you may well be tempted to take the weight off, rest your bones and eat another slice!

Opening Times:
Monday to Saturday    8am – 5pm
Sunday       10am – 3pm

Copplestone Farm Shop
Dulings Farm
EX17 5NR
01363 530764

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Product Review – Mr Filbert’s Fine Foods (Pt 2)


Interesting to ponder, for a minute, what you expect when someone offers you a snack. Are you imagining a monstrous, cartoon layered scooby-snack, a weighty slice of bread on the bottom balancing a slab of every meat you can think of, a ginormous slice of beef tomato, a hunk of cheese bigger than a small country and a gravity defying top slice keeping it all together? 


​Or are you, like my children, imagining a chocolate-laden Swiss roll – chocolate sponge rolled expertly around chocolate butter icing and all excessively encased in solid chocolate (because two types of chocolate in a snack can only ever be improved by adding a third). 

Or are you, like me, imagining a wrought iron balcony, looking out to the Mediterranean, a warm breeze ruffling your skirt as gentle music plays and a waiter brings you three little dishes of delicious savoury morsels to accompany a glass of cold rose?

​If you’re on my wavelength, and those three little dishes hold a trio of olives, nuts and sweet chilli rice crackers then you too should have Mr Filbert’s Fine Foods on speed-dial.​

Their foil packages of “really interesting snacks” mean that you can experience the delights of snacking absolutely anywhere and that imaginary Mediterranean balcony can be in the layby off the M5 if your handbag holds a snack pack with Mr Filbert on the cover.

​​We, at Fabulous Farm Shops, recently had the good fortune to review three of their snacks (Pitted mixed olives with rosemary & garlic, French rosemary almonds and Traditional beef biltong) and found them quite delightful (read more here). So another box of goodies was sent our way and the gallant review panel, arms twisted, stepped forward with their hands cupped and ready for the next round of tasting.

On the table this time:
Basil, garlic and coriander marinated olives (snack pack)
Sweet chilli rice crackers (sharing pack)
Peanuts and Hazelnuts with Italian herbs (snack pack)


​Well, anyone offering me my own little packet of olives to snack on immediately goes on my Christmas card list so I, for one, was pretty happy to see olives on the menu again. This time they are marinated in basil, garlic and coriander which is a slightly controversial mixture. Some of the review panel members turned their nose up at the thought of coriander. I have recently learnt that one’s delight or revulsion at the taste of coriander is a genetic predisposition rather than a simple taste preference. If coriander tastes like soapy water to you, then it is just the way you were born! 

​Fortunately, Mr Filbert’s use of coriander in his snack pack of olives is very sparing and the light hint of herbiness across these olives is perfectly balanced. There’s a nod to the Mediterranean without an overwhelming perfume or flavour. 

” a subtle hint of summer nights”

…wrote one reviewer. “Soft and scrumptious” crooned another and “Moreish” scribbled a third.

​The word moreish was deliberated over for a while by the review panel. Meaning “so good it leaves you wanting more” it was certainly applicable to this little pack of snack olives. This was not a sharing pack. It was a small handful of the most succulent, gently flavoured green olives. Some were left desperate for more whilst others felt that the volume was perfect for a little one-person accompaniment to a cool beverage. I certainly didn’t want to share mine with anyone. They can have my last rolo but I’m keeping my Filbert’s olives.


​Next in the bowl were the sweet chilli rice crackers. Now if you’re after a bag of goodies to share with your mates, then you’ve come to the right snack. This is a sharing pack and a generous one at that. The packaging is fantastic as the resealable pouch can be easily closed and keeps the rice crackers gloriously fresh for the next bout of the munchies and there weren’t many who could have finished off this pack all by themselves. They pack a serious punch of chilli sweetness which knocks some sense into you.  Often a sharing pack is just an excuse to eat three times more than you know is sensible but here we had a snack you want to take your time over.


​The crackers are small and intense, a glorious orangey colour with a fabulous crunch. Pop a couple in your mouth and the sweet chilli gets the juices flowing then a powerful kick of flavour demands your attention. It was slightly unexpected on the first mouthful, eyes opened wide and a few coughs escaped but everyone, and I mean everyone, came back for more.

… was one comment, followed by a liberal sprinkling of exclamation marks. “WoW” shouted another. “Ker POW” added another (who thought he was in a Marvel comic and not writing for an extremely respectable and serious review panel).

A definite hit.

​Our third and final treat for the day was another smaller snack pack containing a pleasing mixture of peanuts and hazelnuts with Italian herbs.  Everyone noted the packet and were in favour of the realistic and attractive picture on the front. Knowing how hard it is to photograph food and make it look enticing, the consensus was that Mr Filbert’s have got it just right. The packaging gives you a good indication of what your senses are about to experience. Light and colourful but with a cleanness to the presentation which only makes you want to snack more. Excellent work.


​Now for the taste test. Again, eager hands were held out for a good sprinkling of nut magic. And no one was disappointed. An even distribution of herby flavouring was noted and the taste was a “just right” on the Goldilocks’ scale of appreciation.

…wrote one nut-lover.  “Perky” suggested another and the word “moreish” was rolled out again by various reviewers. One wrote a full essay on the pleasures of enjoying Mr Filbert’s peanuts and hazelnuts whilst watching a game of cricket with a cold beer. It was an excellent essay despite the awful handwriting and the unsightly beer stains on the paper but the message was clear… 

​“I will be buying these snacks in the future
​- accompanied by a very good doodle of a wicket keeper. 

​See! – snacks beyond expectation.

If you would like to stock these fabulous little snacks in your farm shop then get in touch with Filbert’s Fine Foods:
by phone 01458 833744
by email
or online

If you have a product you would like us to review, please contact