Regional farm shops foodies will love
With more of us eschewing big-brand supermarkets to support local farm produce, we unearth seven independents selling the region’s ‘good life’ in (recyclable) bottles, crates and brown paper bags.
The Green Barn
With its kaleidoscopic displays of Granny Smiths, green beans, juicy tomatoes and fresh-from-the-field strawberries, The Green Barn Farm in north Benfleet is your one-stop-shop for premium produce. Run by local farmers, it serves up the usual seasonal fruit and veg alongside home-reared Aberdeen Angus beef, organic eggs and dairy, and an enormous selection of Maldon’s famous Tiptree jams, pickles and preserves. Oh, and you can pick up a bouquet of county-cut blooms on your way out, too. What’s not to love?
Mitchell’s Farm Shop
Having farmed land in Elmstead Market for the past 100 years, the Mitchell family now offer up the best of their own produce (Mitchell’s potatoes and mixed arable crops) alongside some of the hottest independent food brands in the business. Cue home-cooked ready meals that you can store in the freezer, local-produce ice-creams to grab on the go (make mine a two-scoop gooseberry and elderflower), and a smart selection of Colchester’s finest beers and wines. Need we say more? Thought not…
Occupying a generous plot on Southend Road in Billericay, Barleylands Farm Shop takes stock diversity to the next level. Here, you can shop everything from fresh Tiger bloomers in the bakery and Barleylands’ own-brand pork sausages from the meat counter, to vit-packed seasonal veg, salad and fruit boxes priced at a reasonable £19.99. What’s more, it’s all available online for local home delivery too, so you can shop while you surf (so to speak).
Park Fruit Farm
Hankering after a mouthwatering pear picked fresh from the orchard? Say hello to Park Fruit Farm in Great Holland, Frinton-on-Sea. Spanning 60 acres, this specialist fruit farm once sold its ruby wares to Old Covent Garden Market and huge wholesalers in London, but now focuses on a boutique operation in its own farm shop, which stocks 39 varieties of apple, as well as a selection of different pears, plums, raspberries and blackberry. Fresh-pressed, untreated apple juice is also available in the store, alongside cider vinegar matured in oak on the land. It doesn’t come more homespun than this, people.
Jon Gold Farm Shop
With a focus on free-range beef and poultry, this high-end Farm Shop and butchery in Rayleigh boasts award-winning pies, home-cured bacons, and tender quality cuts sourced from the greenest pockets of Essex and Suffolk. Jon Gold’s ‘barbeque’ selections of peppered steaks, minted lamb burgers, and pork and apple sausages are particularly popular on a sultry summer afternoon, while the cheeses, eggs, and fruit-packed preserves are regular weekly shop wins.
The Essex Herb Company
More of an organic online shopping platform than your run of the mill farm shack, this Southend-based business still offers free delivery to shoppers in the local area and sources all fresh, seasonal produce on the site from county suppliers. From fruit and veggies grown at Sarah Green’s Organics in Tillingham, to Leigh-on-Sea’s golden jars of Pure Essex Honey and organic skincare (from award-winning Canvey Island-based brand Elixirs of Life, no less), The Essex Herb Company‘s expert curation of prized regional brands is a digital dream.
The Farm Shop Cafe
Sick of having to drive out to the sticks to find a decent stash of local greens? Head into Chelmsford town centre where, slap bang in the middle of Moulsham Street, is a great example of a modern farm-shop makeover. Having served up the usual crates of onions and beets alongside hand-roasted coffee to Essex townies for years, The Farm Shop expanded in 2018 to include a chic cafe for brunchers, lunchers and afternoon tea sets. The result? A stylish independent with a focus on fresh, seasonal farm food, and some damn fine bistro chairs to boot.