Sometimes you feel the need to go somewhere unfussy and cheerful, where the values that inspire the business transpire into what you see and what you buy. The love for nature and respect for the environment inform how Abbey Home Farm shop and coffee shop are run. It is the very essence of the place. It is a calm yet joyful milieu, with an abundance of seasonal produce grown on the land around the farm or sourced from other organic growers. The flavour of the fruit and vegetables you acquire here is such that it will take your dishes to a whole new level. Beyond veg, you can buy meat, grains, pulses, cakes and confectionery here, all of which taste great. As a keen cook I am a strong believer in letting the natural flavours of quality ingredients speak for themselves; I remember getting a leg of lamb here for Easter lunch and my guests were hugely complimentary about how it tasted – it really made all the difference!
I love coming here even if it’s just to hang out. Whatever the season, you always have a sense of it by the produce on the shelves and the surrounding countryside, whether it’s pumpkin and mushroom-laden shelves in the autumn or gorgeous bunches of assorted field flowers and an abundance of tomatoes and courgettes in the summer. There is a lovely area out front with some wooden chairs and tables where you can enjoy your drinks and food from the coffee shop and restaurant, under the trees, and let the kids play free-range on the climbing frame and swings.
Inside, the restaurant is a light and airy place with lovely views over the surrounding countryside. It’s not fancy, but it’s not meant to be. They do a mean roast dinner on a Sunday and great trays of succulent roast vegetables during the week as well as colourful, scrumptious, nutritious salads. The cakes are not elaborate or refined either but they positively burst with flavour. The lemon drizzle, polenta and orange or flapjacks are all robust and satisfying.
The farm runs seasonal events too: I once came here for a cookery course, invited by a friend of mine who had received it as a Christmas present. It was a one-dayer on their house salads – and it was a thoroughly pleasant experience. I picked up some great tips, too. There is normally a farm day in the summer, with tractor rides and access to the animals on the farm for the amusement of kids and adults alike. Out at the back of the shop there is an area devoted to furniture and gifts, as well as some natural cosmetic ranges and some books too. Enough to keep you interested and amused for a good half hour.
With all that is on offer in town, it is so easy to overlook Abbey Home Farm (or the Organic Farm, as we call it at home). But it is an oversight that is easily corrected if you just want to pick up a few groceries and maybe get a bite to eat. We have made a promise to ourselves that we will make the effort to get there more often, and we think that you should too. And as it’s autumn with all the fantastic flavour the season offers, there’s probably no better time.