The Farm, Stratford

Fun at The Farm, Stratford

Imagine a place that’s a hub of all things food and drink – and all local to Warwickshire. Imagine no more. It exists, and it’s rather splendid.

I first heard about The Farm when I interviewed Mike from local business Prices Spices for my day job. He told me about a place that was going to be all about artisan food and drink, showcasing the great local stuff in Warwickshire – and also a place where he’d be growing his chilli plants and turning his crop into his range of chilli sauces, rubs and more.

There would be events, talks, cookery lessons and all sorts of great things championing the local food and drink scene. It sounded fabulous, and almost too good to be true, but in spring this year The Farm opened in Snitterfield just outside Stratford-upon-Avon and has proved to be everything he said, and more.

The Farm, Stratford

Like all of my destinations, it’s somewhere I’ve meant to go for months and not made it to – until a few weeks ago when my niece and I took a trip over. Maybe it was helped by the sunny day we went, maybe it was the joy of taking time off work for a mid-week day out, or maybe it’s just The Farm itself, but it has a lovely air of, well, joy about it.

There’s a kind of earnest busy-ness combined with a relaxed vibe – it’s somewhere that has dreams and ambitions and wants to do stuff, yet gets that sometimes appreciating food and drink is about slowing down and taking your time.

We started in the epic farm shop and deli that is home to Crombie’s butchers, Vin Neuf wine merchants, a fishmongers, Haddie & Trilby the bakers and more. There’s a zero waste section, and a load of producers right there doing their thing – including Prices Spices and Slabb Chocolate turning out all manner of sweet treats.

The display of fruit and veg is, quite frankly, enough to make you turn away from supermarket produce forever and was lovingly being tended to to keep it fresh and looking its best while we were there. There’s even interiors stuff upstairs if that floats your boat.

Fridges and freezers stock everything from meat to top-notch ready meals, drinks, snacks and more. You just get the impression that there’s a real focus on quality and this is a place that is about provenance and local-sourcing at its heart – not just as advertising guff designed to appeal to the trend of us all saying how much of a social conscience we have.

At the far end we found Nourish – the cafe that was packed on a Wednesday afternoon with everyone from families to business people. At its centre is a pizza oven turning out epic sourdough creations, and a specials board promised soups, salads and other delights.

We sat outside in the courtyard and shared a pizza which I have to say, was one of the nicest I’ve had in a while, crispy and slightly chewy in texture and covered in locally-produced meat.

After lunch we had a wander around, looking at Mike’s forest of chilli plants in the polytunnels outside, as well as another area that provides a kind of workshop place for children’s activities and holiday clubs (not my bag, but presumably a massive plus for families).

We left reluctantly, clutching spoils from our trip including some epic jerk pork kebabs from Crombie’s for the barbecue and various other edible souvenirs.

Since our visit, the cookery school at The Farm has opened which only adds to its appeal and means its calendar of events is more packed than ever. From authors days to gin tastings and classes, there’s plenty to drag you across the county to this little oasis of foodie heaven – or you could just go along for a day trip, which in itself is a rather lovely experience.

The Farm, Stratford

I could go on and on, but The Farm is somewhere you need to see for yourself. Perhaps I’m waxing lyrical unnecessarily, but I’m just endlessly pleased when something like this happens on my doorstep.

With my serious head on, I could talk about the economic impact, the added draw to the area and all the benefits that brings, and the small businesses it champions. But it’s about more than that – it’s about Warwickshire putting its money where its mouth is (quite literally) when it comes to our food and drink offering, and showing that it’s not just the big cities that can showcase a thriving, imaginative and ambitious food scene.

It is also living, breathing evidence of the power of collaboration. Take each one of the businesses at the farm and put them there alone, and I imagine they wouldn’t last long. But put them together in a hub that works together and provides a whole day’s worth of entertainment, interest and fun and you have a destination in its own right.

I’ll stop there. Go and see for yourself. You won’t regret it.

I paid in full for everything we had at The Farm. They didn’t know I was a blogger.