Farm Shop Revolution

How far have farm shops evolved?

Farm Shop Revolution

Lady Hamilton from Apley Farm Shop explains how far farm shops have evolved from their original concepts.

"A quiet Farm Shop revolution has been taking place across the UK over the last 10 years, with Shropshire boasting 3 award winning Farm Shops – Ludlow Food Centre, Battlefield 1403 & Apley Farm Shop. Ten years ago, a farm shop was never much more than a shed on the roadside or a stall in a chilly farm building. Today, there's a farm shop for everyone - from foodies to families, some providing a very complete shopping experience. Being independent & often run by family members, each one is different & unique. Plus, now consumers are much better informed about the food they eat & its provenance. They can be more selective than ever, getting great taste & value for money too."

“At Apley, we've evolved very much into a Destination Farm Shop, for which we were recognised in an article last year listing us amongst the UK’s top 10 destination farm shops. Our business base is broader than we originally planned - with The Farm Shop, The Creamery Café & Pigg’s Playbarn being the first 3 core businesses."

Apley Estate owner Lord Hamilton commented “Looking back to our original concepts in March 2011, I am glad to say we have stuck closely to one of our core philosophies of supplying Shropshire best quality local food & drink to local people”.

Tina Buckland, Apley Farm Shop General Manager, added "It was a great honour to have The Creamery Café listed amongst the top 3 UK Farm Shop café restaurants, by journalist AA Gill in December last year." Tina has a strong background in catering, so is looking forward to building on that recognition.

Lady Hamilton, Marketing Manager added "I've particularly enjoyed adding the Apley Walled Garden dimension which wasn’t on the drawing board at all back in 2011. We have spent more time than ever anticipated on event management as we found it to be an important way to attract new visitors who may otherwise not discover all we have to offer."

Only 2 years after opening, we added the Apley Walled Garden dimension. Having been out of production for 50 years, no-one could ever have imagined the extraordinary & rapid progress made by one man – Phil Allen, our Head Gardener. He was producing vegetables within the first 3 months & this year has again quadrupled his production.  In the first year (2013), he grew unusual varieties of fruit & vegetable for the Farm Shop, but since 2014, he's been supplying equal quantities of traditional & less well known produce, as we realized customers need time to adapt to new tastes.

Phil Allen, our Head Gardener of Apley Walled Garden explained "I was delighted to be appointed as the development of the gardens presented a huge & exciting challenge, which I have relished. The gardens predate 1775 & are very well appointed with great soil quality. It's great to work daily in such a beautiful & historic environment."

Apley has also developed a production kitchen, which didn't exist at the outset, where Apley branded products are produced, ranging from ready made meals, soups, Scotch eggs, savoury & sweet tartes & cakes. Julie's bakery has been also been a huge success, producing & selling increasing amounts every month.

This year, Apley has switched to digital advertising & already created their first few films, about to be shown on in-store televisions next week. Other 2015 marketing strategies include trialing Click & Collect veg boxes & hampers, as well as possibly 'Apley To Go' meal bags containing weighed ingredients, so customers can get straight down to the fun of cooking.

For full details & times see www.apleyfarmshop.co.uk or call 01952 730 345 

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