Introducing Edward Spicer….


​There’s a new man on the scene at Fabulous Farm Shops HQ and we hope you’re going to meet him soon.  Edward Spicer runs his own unique business (more on that in a minute) but is perfectly placed to talk to all you fabulous farm shop owners out there about the great work that we are doing and he has agreed to become our man on the ground, our ambassador, the bearded face of Fabulous Farm Shops!


​He travels around the UK with his own business, ArtisanLink, which he set up after seeing a gap in the market. He recognised that artisan producers want to put all their time and effort into creating the most beautiful, delicious, flavoursome product they can and that the promotion of that product to the delis and farm shops out there can be time-consuming and tricky.

​Equally, he realised that the huge range of products bombarding the farm shop and deli owners on a daily basis made an informed decision difficult and that a lot of the best products were being lost amongst the, shall we say, less scrumptious.


​Edward knew there was a place for a personal service, a trusted, carefully crafted regional sample delivery service. He gathers the best artisan products and presents the samples to the established farm shops and delis in his four carefully thought-out regions (see his website for more details on this) with a friendly and informative approach.

​Edward does the leg work, enhancing brand exposure and maximising the impact of those all-important samples, creating quality leads and new opportunities.


​So…we hope that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Whilst out on the road with ArtisanLink, Edward will be sharing our latest projects with farm shops, carrying copies of our new printed ‘A’ list and picking up titbits from the coalface of local retail! 

​Communication is the name of the game, so all feedback is welcome… as always, we want to continue to help farm shops and producers thrive in this ever-changing and challenging climate. So, if you meet Edward over the coming months, feel free to sit him down and tell him what you want… maybe just make him a coffee first!

Edward Spicer  – Artisan Link
44 7947 612452

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Gentle diversification & Rural Innovation

Here at Fabulous Farm Shop HQ, we love hearing all about the many innovations you Farm Shops are coming up with. Do get in touch if there are additions or changes that you are making and we can shout about them to our followers.
Many farm shops have been thinking about the planet and have added zero waste refill areas like at Radmore Farm Shop in Cambridgeshire or milk stations like the wonderfully named “Moo Station” at Roves Farm Shop in Wiltshire.
We have even seen one farm shop, recently introduce electric charging points outside in their car park which is a fabulous addition. Loving your work, Three Trees Farm Shop, WiltshireSmall changes that can make a big difference! These charging points can add over 100 miles of range to your vehicle in 15 minutes – just enough time to fill a basket at the shop! 
And outside the farm shop, we see playgrounds and animal paddocks as at Harvest Barn Shop in Cambridgeshire, maize mazes, pick your own or a #freshfishthursday featured fish man as at Croots Farm Shop in Derbyshire.
Some changes were brought about by the pandemic but have proved so popular that they have been made permanent features and are keeping customers happy and healthy.
The Gog Farm Shop in Cambridgeshire are maintaining their “stay in car” service where customers are encouraged to drive up to the farm shop, pull in to one of the two designated bays, sound their horn and one of the team will come and take their order and bring their shopping to their car.

Jolly Nice Farm Shop in Gloucestershire are investing in a brand new drive-thru service after their takeaway service (built within 8 weeks of the first Covid lockdown)  helped keep customers safe and staff employed. 

And this wonderful addition not only caught our attention but it won Jolly Nice farm shop the title of ‘Best Rural Innovation’ in the Southwest regional finals of the @ruralbusinessawards

Hoorah for gentle diversification, rural innovation and keeping the farm shop fresh!

Farm Shops – More Reasons To Shop

Editorial written by Edward Berry, of the Flying Fork
As the multiples suffered empty shelves some farm shops experienced a substantial  increase in demand, and without the logjam of regional depots and multi-channel international supply chains, had supply to fulfil this.
Some farm shops effectively converted their shop floors to accommodate social distancing, and others changed to delivery processes to accommodate demand. With space available  from their now closed  cafes, this was used by many to create dedicated packing systems and collection hubs.
Many consumers discovered farms shops are not as expensive as imagined and enjoyed a pleasurable shopping experience. Further, local people often avoid them not because of price, but because supermarkets are convenient and easier to access on the way home from work. But as people consider their options post COVID-19, and some employers allow their employees to work from home as and when, it may be that sourcing local food will potentially become habitual for many people.
A change in attitude among shoppers could last beyond the pandemic, with sourcing food locally becoming the new normal. This of course raises the question of how the benefits that emerged for the local food economy during this period can be maintained into
the future. Looking at a fight back from the multiples, all promotions and advertising
are set firmly at price alone.
Farm shops have neither the margin to compete, nor the communication channels to access to such a wide audience.  Messages of local employment, low food miles and above all quality and taste must win over simple pricing.
Shortages today appear to have evolved from a number of areas –  Covid issues – change of career, illness, furlough etc., Brexit – shortage of workforce, borders and increased paperwork, driver shortages – a mix of all of the previous reasons.
Add shipping challenges – container ships waiting to dock and unload and throw in the well reported Suez canal block and you have a perfect storm.
This gives a clear reason to expect shortages of imported goods.
Next add driver shortages in this country and you have reasons for empty shelves in supermarkets.
So to the rescue, yet again, comes the local shop, with its regional supply, flexibility to fill shelves on a rotational basis and accept that not everything needs to be available all the time.

Afternoon Delights!

By Jane Malyon 
 The English Cream Tea Company
Do you serve English Cream Tea?
I spend much of my life discussing the niceties of English Cream Tea with the public or the press.
Can you guess the question I get asked most often?  Yes, it’s about the pronunciation of the word Scone (of course!)…..and the next most asked question? Cream or Jam first.  Go on, have one more guess for the 3rd most popular question: well that one is all about milk or tea first!!
Since setting up The English Cream Tea Company in 2011 and gaining the Guinness World Record for the largest English Cream Tea ever that year, I must have discussed these aspects over 3000 times. 
The BBC have interviewed me over and over as have TV crews from abroad, The Times, The Guardian, Woman and Home and lots more….but it was only the TV crew from Russia who surprised me. Their first question (in a thick Russian accent) was: “
Jane…what is builder’s tea?”.  Caught completely on the hop I said something about it being tea so strong you could stand your spoon up in it…and the interviewer said back with surprise:  “You can stand your spoon up in your tea?”.  
Haha.  That taught me to keep it literal and not to use metaphors in such interviews!

Well I help to run @CreamTeaHour on Twitter (Thursdays at 8pm), have a mailing list of 20,000 and also have hundreds of thousands of viewers to our etiquette videos.  So I’ve taken the opportunity to run a survey on what qualities people want to see in a nice tea room.  The order of popularity of pleas and requests to those running tea rooms, is slightly surprising:

8th favourite answer was to do with the staff being presented nicely, preferably with old fashioned aprons!
7th highest response was about choices of gluten free, vegetarian options and so on.
6th highest answer was to have a nice range of teas from which to choose.
5th most popular viewpoint was all about the viewpoint!  A nice view when possible with countryside or seaside preferred. 
4th top answer emphasised about fresh fresh fresh.  No dry sandwiches, no dry cakes and a freshly made selection please!
3rd highest was to do with the china – pretty cups and saucers, would you believe. People referred to loving the tinkling noise of silver spoons on the bone china!
2nd most popular answer was cleanliness.  Lots of people commented on how important this was to them, including the table linen.  One person also said that if she picked up the menu and it was icky-sticky to begin with, it would put her off the whole treat!

And the top number one answer?  That was to receive a nice warm welcome and have lovely friendly, smiling service!

No one mentioned the words ‘must be cheap’ by the way – so that’s quite interesting in itself!

In the Autumn, my book, ‘Scone or Scon’ will be published, containing the history of tea and afternoon tea in Great Britain and top recipes too – but also with a full etiquette quiz to see if we’re all Palace ready!  However, regardless of whether we hold our little pinky finger out when drinking tea or not (and by the way, the answer is ‘not’), the importance is to treasure our wonderful tea time traditions. 
We supply farm shops and retailers with  
gift tins and jam sets pertaining to afternoon tea (eg Home Bake Scone Kits) and we must all keep the tradition going.  Teatime treats are loved by Brits and visitors from abroad alike and Nelson Mandela even said that afternoon tea was Britain’s greatest export. 
​For those of you offering these treats in your establishment, keep up the good work.  I heartily approve and I believe Nelson would too!  😀

What makes a farm shop FABULOUS?

By Jo O’Boyle
Owner of Spencer’s Farm Shop
Wickham St Paul’s, Essex


By definition a farm shop is a shop which sells produce from a farm directly to the public, but I would say it doesn’t just stop there.
A farm shop is a haven for all things special and different in the homogenised supermarket age where you can buy anything at any time of the year regardless of seasonality in the nearest store or at the click of a mouse.

    In the time where convenience is what we all need
    in our increasingly hectic lives; a farm shop offers
    a more wholesome experience where the potatoes
    still have mud on them, the veg isn’t shrouded
    in plastic, the cakes are homemade and the
​    meat is locally sourced.

…But what makes them FABULOUS?

​A fabulous farm shop doesn’t have to be a sprawling shed, many start from very humble beginnings often selling their home grown produce from a shed, growing organically due to customer demand.
A fabulous farm shop should champion fresh and support local producers & farmers offering the best produce from the county and region in a way that no supermarket can. What’s more a fabulous farm shop can offer a customer experience second to none. Passionate, knowledgeable staff deliver tastings, know their customers by name, pack their bags & if needed carry their shopping to their car.

Farm shops are particularly fabulous because of the local provenance that is guaranteed in its products. If what you’re buying wasn’t grown or reared or made on the farm itself the farm shop will likely source the produce direct from the farmer and understand how & where it was reared, grown & made. Particularly relevant during food scares that have affected nearly all UK supermarkets over the years.
At a farm shop there’s no middle man so to speak and the journey from ‘field to fork’ is a short one. What’s more shopping local helps to drive the local economy because local businesses invest locally so your money spent will stay in the community.

 What’s not to love?

So this weekend if you’re at a loose end find your local farm shop, channel your inner foodie and be inspired by the delightful local produce on offer.
Discover your local Fabulous Farm Shop by clicking this LINK