Jeremy Clarkson’s hit show Clarkson’s Farm on Amazon Prime has done a lot for the farming industry. His farm shop, Diddly Squat, has seen the surrounding roads in Chipping Norton gridlocked as shoppers scrambled to visit.
On the programme itself, when it first opened, the shop only really had potatoes at first and the crowds still came in their droves.
Now I know a big pull of the shop could well be the chance to see a real life celebrity but, if only one of those visitors was a first timer at a farm shop and went and told their friends about it, that could make them visit a farm shop and then the cycle would go on.
Something seemed to happen in 2020 when the COVID pandemic and the first, strict lock down made people think about where their food comes from.
News reports noted the increase of sales in meat as people tried to replicate their favourite restaurant dinners at home and people sought out their local food suppliers and outlets.
As things open up and (hopefully) get back to normal, I am sure people will go back to their old ways in part but I do believe that the public has become more food-savvy and aware of their environmental footprint.
So why go to a farm shop? Why not go back to the supermarket? Yes farm shops can be more expensive than the more intensively produced foods which line supermarket shelves but there are definite advantages too.
1. Farm shops support local community and, by spending money there you are supporting the local economy, paying the wages of local people and giving producers a fair price.
2. Farm shops tend to stock products from the local area, producing less air miles and therefore are better for the environment.
3. You may discover something new. From heritage vegetables, more obscure vegetables to cuts of meat not usually found in supermarkets. Don’t even start on the cheese available.
4. Farm shops use less plastic and you tend to get your shopping in a box or a paper bag.
5. The time from field to farm shop is usually a lot shorter than to larger shops and chains so the food is fresher and will keep longer-especially if it still has dirt on it.
6. Fresher produce tastes better.
7. As farm shops are usually on actual farms or in more rural settings, you could make a day of it and reconnect with the countryside.
8. Produce in farm shops is much more seasonal than everywhere else. You will quickly find out what is in season when you visit and I find by talking about different vegetables and letting my children touch them makes them more likely to try new things.
9. You can find out new ways of cooking and eating food. My local farm shop sells kits for making things like soup and, in the bag comes everything you need to make it.
10. You can avoid over buying at a farm shop by opting for loose fruit and vegetables srather than items in a pack.
Mr Clarkson’s success is an inspiration and could well be a driving force in getting people to seek out their own local farm stores. By buying from local farm shops, it makes it easier for you to track the traceability of your produce, whilst supporting local businesses and creating demand for higher-quality foods with a smaller carbon footprint.
You just might not meet a celebrity at every one.