We a have such a wide choice of wonderful locally produced food here on the Island and a will to celebrate the seasons in which we can purchase and consume them.
Autumn is the season of mellow fruitfulness and apples, pears, plums, courgettes, marrows, squashes and plump pumpkins. Garlic is bursting from its papery packaging, sweetcorn is juicy and fun to unwrap and the hedgerows are bursting with blackberries and sloes.
Lambs are off to the ‘works’ on the mainland after a summer frolicking in the fields, the veal calves have the same journey and game is literally dropping from our skies – albeit from the intervention of a twelve bore, a good shot and a golden retriever.
The Aberdeen Angus cows are bucolically grazing in the lush meadows and we even have deer in a dell just south of Newport. Soon there will be turkey chicks arriving to be fattened for the Christmas feast.
Farm Shops are on the increase and often offer much more than just food. Some have cafes, others educational activities showing you where your food comes from and many are situated in stunning locations. Here’s our guide to five of the best…
The best for amazing quality Island lamb, pork and Aberdeen Angus beef, where you are guaranteed it has been born, bred and raised in the countryside around the farm, is Mottistone Manor Farm Shop in Mottistone. Stocking a range of locally sourced products as well as seasonal veg from their own garden, make sure you checkout their lovely selection of homemade pies too.
At Briddlesford Farm near Wootton there are veal calves for children to see and touch, a well-stocked shop and the beautiful new Bluebells Café where you can sample Island fayre. The farm also has a classroom for school visits and a small educational display.
The Garlic Farm in Newchurch has just about everything from a stunning new café/restaurant to the new Heritage and Education centres and holiday cottages. Sheltered beneath the downs with pretty local lanes to negotiate on your way, you can find just about anything garlicky you can think of in the farm shop plus much more in this idyllic setting.
4. Farmer Jacks
The first, the largest and the best stocked has to be Farmer Jacks at Arreton Old Village where the brand new building has an extensive meat counter, baskets and baskets of fruit and veg and a large frozen selection. It’s also the only one with a popular pub, the Dairyman’s Daughter, right next door, and a whole array of attractions for every member of the family.
The Dairy Deli at Shalfleet is best for Calbourne Classics dairy and baking range along with their lovely deli products and they have a cute café in this former service station. Also best for stopping off after a visit to nearby Newtown Nature Reserve.