Farming family clubs together to launch new Suffolk farmshop after roadside operation success
Six farmers working on the same family farm have clubbed together to launch a new retail business.
The Hog and Hen Farmshop opened on Friday, March 23, at Mill Green Farm near Stonham Aspall, on the Debenham Road.
The store is a joint venture between husband and wife, Nathan and Naomi Wiffen, her parents, Mark and Rachael Howson, and cousin Anna Salisbury and her husband Luke.
The six decided it would be a good idea after a smaller-scale roadside operation proved a big hit with passing trade. In the future they hope to expand the business by opening a cafe on the site, but at the moment they are aiming to gauge what customers want, explained Nathan.
The store sells free range eggs, chickens, fresh vegetables and other produce, which will be in season and local where possible. Food made by Suffolk companies, including Hillfarm Oils’ cold-pressed rapeseed oil, James White Drinks, milk from Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, and bread and pastries from the Cake Shop in Woodbridge are among the foodstuffs stocked.
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The family grows wheat, barley and oilseed rape on the 350-acre farm, as well as fattening around 2,000 pigs for Tulip.
Naomi already runs a florist business, Road and Berry Flowers, from the site, and Luke runs a game operation, rearing pheasants and partridges.
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“He already reared a few turkeys at Christmas and we started off with eggs by the side of the road and we saw the potential of the areas and the lack of a farmshop in the locality and that was really the start,” said Nathan.
“It’s part of a plan to grow the business. You have to look at other income streams and diversifying into different projects.
“It’s all about balance. The farm is the core business, but you have got to look at ways of developing your farm - you don’t want to stand still.”
The business has been about a year in the planning and the store has been put up by the family. They have also put up a polytunnel from which they will be providing in season vegetables such as tomatoes, courgettes, squash and mushrooms.
Nathan sees the business evolving over time.
The store will be open initially from 9am to 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9am to noon on Saturdays.