Farmshop Branches Out
A FARMSHOP is now a cut above after adding a large butchery section to its offerings.La Hogue Farm Shop at Chippenham, near Newmarket, is celebrating a £60,000 refurbishment which included turning a kitchen into a cutting room, which leads into a butchery counter within the store.
A FARMSHOP is now a cut above after adding a large butchery section to its offerings.
La Hogue Farm Shop at Chippenham, near Newmarket, is celebrating a £60,000 refurbishment which included turning a kitchen into a cutting room, which leads into a butchery counter within the store.
The work was helped by a 40% grant from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Rural Enterprise Scheme, which supports farm diversification and the promotion of local and regional produce.
An experienced butcher and assistant have been taken on to run the department.
The award-winning store was set up just four years ago by former chartered surveyors Chris and Joanna Reeks, who were based in Somerset.
“We wanted our own business and we were passionate about food,” said Mr Reeks.
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They started the business up in two large converted piggeries on Mrs Reeks' family's farm.
“We were already selling the local meats pre-cut and we wanted to basically expand that through the butchery there with two full time butchers who could talk to customers. Farm shops are all about customers, who want information,” he said.
“It's going back to that old-fashioned relationship between a butcher and a customer.”
The store has gone from strength to strength since it opened and now employs 19 people following the latest refurbishment and refitting work.
It has five full-time cooks, all of whom make a range of popular ready meals for customers. As part of the work, they have expanded the farmshop kitchen where the food is prepared.
The farmshop now sells “pretty much everything food-wise”, said Mr Reeks.
It sells local fruit and vegetables, local meats, all from farms in East Anglia, and has a delicatessen selling around 80 different cheeses, mainly British. It also stocks local ales and beers, dairy produce and ice creams from nearby farms.
Mr Reeks said they were “delighted” with the shop refit, and now hopes they will attract more customers to the shop, which averages around 1500 to 2000 a week.
“We have seen the demand for high quality, locally-sourced produce soar as the public increasingly want to know where and how their food has been produced,” he said.
Nicola Newell, a rural development adviser with DEFRA, said: “La Hogue has had unprecedented success since it opened and the new butchery promoting dozens of local producers showed an excellent fit with the scheme's objectives.”