Jess O’Sullivan takes a look at how your food shop can save the planet and support the local economy.
With almost all forms of retail shut, a daily walk and a trip to the food shop might just be the most exciting thing that you’re doing right now. While we can’t break up the routine of lockdown by visiting a café with a friend or sitting down in a restaurant, by switching up where and how you purchase your food, you can make the most simple of meals feel a little more special.
Shopping locally has had a huge revival over the past year when travelling out of the area has become more difficult. As supermarkets and local food stores are among the only businesses allowed to remain open, it is no surprise that they are where we have been spending most of our money. A recent YouGov poll showed that 64% of people have shopped more locally as a direct result of Coronavirus restrictions, with 70% saying that they plan to carry on once lockdown is over.
This is great news for both the environment and the local economy. By shopping direct from the producer or smaller farm shops, you can help reduce food miles and support family-owned businesses – bonus points if you walk or cycle to get there!
As we tentatively move on from the pandemic, the regeneration of local economies and protection of our countryside needs to be a top priority. Supporting sustainable food systems and farmers who have a strong focus on enhancing biodiversity and looking after the environment will play a key role in the future. Even as the impact of COVID declines, the threat of climate change has not disappeared. Supporting local producers is a great way of investing in your community and reducing your impact on the environment.
The following section highlights some excellent small producers and farm shops that span across Bedford, Luton and Central Bedfordshire. They have been chosen because of their focus on local, sustainable and seasonal produce. These small businesses showcase how you can get everything you need from our farm shops, without having to step foot in a supermarket!
The Farm Shop at Scald End Farm, Thurleigh – Selling produce from local growers alongside home-reared beef, lamb and pork.
Pells Farm Shop, Wilden – Family-owned garden centre with a farm shop full of local produce.
The Barn, Cardington – A fully stocked deli with an onsite butcher offering everything from fruit and veg to cheese and English wine. They also offer a delivery service via their website.
Herrings Green Farm, Wilstead – Based in the Birds of Prey Centre in Wilstead, enjoy watching baby owls play or alpacas chomping on the grass while you pick out your groceries. Much better than standing in line at the supermarket!
The Black Cat Farm Shop, Roxton – Specialises in food grown and produced locally. Jams, chutneys and pickles are made onsite using local ingredients.
Harpers Food and Wine, Pepperstock – High-quality food and wine just outside Luton. Featuring a food hall and meat counter, Harpers are passionate about offering the best products that Bedfordshire can offer.
Nobby’s Farm Shop, Billington – A village farm shop on a working farm stocking homegrown vegetables and eggs. They also have a Tea Room for enjoying coffee and homemade cakes once lockdown has lifted!
Peck’s Farm Shop, Eggington – Two barns full of local produce, homemade cakes, bread and everything else you could ever need from a farm shop. Has a dedicated space for showcasing local crafts and food from independent sellers – excellent for buying gifts while stocking up on fruit and veg.
Dolly’s Barn, Maulden – A small farm shop selling local honey, jams and other condiments. Dolly also offers a delivery service of fruit and vegetable boxes to help you take advantage of seasonal British produce.
Marbled Meats, Northall – Family run farm with 2500 ewes and 250 cows grazing on the Chiltern Hills. They put sustainability first and sell their meat direct from the farm shop in Northall meaning you can get quality Wagyu beef much cheaper than anywhere else.
Over to you!
You might also want to encourage them to apply for this year’s Living Countryside Awards – the Made in Bedfordshire category covers food and drink that is produced locally and the outlets that stock local produce.