Modern Farming In Oxfordshire – Bring Quality To Your Home
Most of us understand that farming is not as portrayed in idealised TV shows and movies. Farming is big business more like a factory than the traditional rural idyll. With Britain being so densely populated there’s no other way it could be, at least for the most part. But there are still places where farming has a more human face, where the farmers make a point of dealing with real people and real families living in the towns and villages nearby. You’re unlikely to see the produce of these farms on the shelves at your local supermarket, or as ingredients in some ready-meal in a freezer cabinet.
Small Farms Fight Back
Although farms have tended to grow larger, forced to do so in order to be able to produce the food Britain needs with high quality and low prices, there’s a tendency to for some farms to capitalise on their small size and make a point of becoming a point of contact for people who want to be sure of getting the best produce and being able to see where and how it was created.
Oxfordshire, along with the rest of the country, has been part of a boom in food quality, diversity of food types and a huge interest in cookery in our own homes. This has given small farms opportunities other than to simply sell up and become part of a huge conglomerate farming hundreds of thousands of acres.
There is not just one model for small farms, some go organic and supply families and restaurants with boxes of organic produce, others have gone down the route of rewilding, although this is often not producing food, there’s heritage breeding farms, fruit and vegetables sold as ‘pick your own’ and farms that specialise in just one product and do it very well indeed, such as farms selling high quality eggs direct to consumers and socialist retailers.
Take Your Family Farming
For many of us, the last time we were on a farm was when we were at school on an organised farm trip. A delight of muddy ground, ripe smells, animal noises, and barns full of straw bales. Maybe it is worth taking a look at small scale modern farming and upgrading some of the food we eat at the same time. The kids will probably enjoy the experience, even down to helping with picking the food they will be eating the next week.
When I was a kid it was an all too rare treat to go to a pick your own farm to get strawberries as a family expedition. These days, it isn’t just strawberries, farms such as Rectory Farm At Stanton St.John offer a wide range of fruit and vegetable produce.
Rectory Farm has been run by Richard and Carla Stanley since 1980. Originally they had only two acres of pick your own strawberries and raspberries.Now they have 75 acres of pick your own fruit and vegetables and many more acres of other produce including wheat and potatoes. If you prefer, you can buy ready picked fresh produce from the farm shop. To make your visit to the farm more complete there’s a cafeteria.
Another take on family friendly farming in Oxfordshire is Crackberry Farm just outside Stow-on-the-Wold. This 12 acre farm specialises in free-range eggs. Cackleberry, run by cacklebean.com/Patrick and Steph Bourn has several flocks of rare breed chickens all living completely free-range in traditional chicken houses. Paddy and Steph are particularly proud of their Arlington White eggs which are a favourite of many chefs in the region and London.
If fresh, creamy, yellow yolked eggs are your thing then there’s no need to go to Fortnum and Mason in London; Cackleberry Farm’s eggs are widely distributed across the Cotswolds. An easy way to taste Cacklebean eggs is to visit the Kingham Plough, just five miles from the farm. They use only Cacklebean eggs for their consistently delicious taste.
With just two of many examples highlighted, we can see that Oxfordians have a choice when it comes to getting good produce into their kitchens. We don’t need to rely upon factory farmed products whether we eat out or at home!