Tag Archives: farm shops

Damsons!

21 Oct
by Deanne

Photo of DamsensWhile visiting a PYO orchard during my recent visit to England, I discovered a new-to-me fruit called a damson.  They look like plums but are a tad smaller with a richer color of purple. According to what we read, they are sometimes quite tart. Photo of Damsen Picker Francine Ours must have been at just the right amount of ripeness because we ate more than our fair share.

Photo of a bowl of damsonsWhen we returned to Francine’s flat we looked through her River Cottage Cookbook to figure out what to do with them.

Francine decided to try this recipe from Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall.  It seems it is best to cook them with their skins and stones until the pesky things fall off.  She produced a beautiful rick looking sauce that we ate over lovely vanilla ice cream.

Damson Sauce

4 parts fruit

1 part sugar  (depending on desired sweetness)

Place damsons in a pan with water. (Check out the original recipe for for exact measurements) Bring to a simmer and cook gently, stirring regularly, for 10-15 minutes, until the fruit has collapsed and the stones have come free. Put the fruit in a sieve and rub through with a wooden spoon to remove the stones and skins. It makes a beautiful purple mess.  Don’t sweat the mess, relish it because it will surely create a vivid memory.  You will sweeten the damson purée by stirring in sugar to taste and leave to cool.

Have you heard of damsons?  Do you have any ideas on what to do with them?

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Pick Your Own Apples and Memories

18 Oct
GrangeFarmShop
appleboxes
 by Deanne

One month ago today I landed at Heathrow and began an amazing three week visit with Francine and Scott. Last time we traveled to England, I discovered a new pastime: visiting farm shops! It didn’t take long to make a list of more to visit while I was there. One weekend we went to one for lunch and then went to another to “play” in their pick your own (PYO) apple orchard.

Scott drove us on narrow winding roads, next to pastures of sheep and through sudden patches of deep dark forests. We stopped for lunch at Cowdray Farm Shop and Cafe. Satisfied by a wholesome meal made with veggies and other goodies from the farm, we eagerly got back into the car so we could ride past more pastures and through even more woods. After a wander near a historic Tudor country home that is in ruins, we arrived at Grange Farm Shop. Photo of Cowdray House

Between picking apples, eating apples (they really do invite you to taste them) and snapping pictures of apples, we remembered the times we made applesauce, apple oatmeal cake and discovered a new-to-me fruit called a damson. I will share pictures and discuss damsons in the next post.

Photo of Apples in the Orchard

Photo of Fallen ApplesWhen I returned home, I learned that Steve had attended an event here in Des Moines called Forgotten Tastes.  He had the opportunity to taste over 60 varieties of heritage apples.(I am not sure how many he actually tasted. ) The event highlighted the work of Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah. In the late winter he will be helping to graft some trees so these old varieties can be re-introduced.

What apple memories did you make this year?

We Break For Farm Shops

25 Nov
by DeannePhoto of Wall Quote at Farm Shop

Remember when we first heard about farm shops?   Francine wrote about the Village Greens Farm Shop in June.  My first visit to a real UK style Farm Shop and Tea Room was on day one of our 13 day trip to visit her earlier this month.

Steve and I arrived in Edinburgh on a Tuesday morning and Francine, Scott, and Luke  met us at the airport.  After a quick visit to the dramatic Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park, they drove us 17 miles south to Whitmuir Farm. Photo One of Whitmuir Farms

We loved eating a wholesome meal in their organic restaurant and tea room and then we bundled up for a self-guided tour of the farm. Photo of Farm Shop Produce  It didn’t take long to get a little Scotland mud on shoes.

After a wander around the farm we shopped in the store and settled back into the tea room for a pudding with another round of tea before we started our drive to our bed and breakfast. For those who live in the US, a pudding is more than just the smooth creamy stuff we eat.  It is more like a rich baked dessert.

The next farm shop we found was on day four of our trip.  We discovered  it as we were driving toward Barnard Castle just outside of the Yorkshire Dales park. 

Photo of Sheep on a Roof

Scott, being an agile driver, quickly turned the car around so we could check to see if we really did see sheep on a roof. The sheep were on the green roof of  Cross Lanes Organic Farm.  They also had a cafe but unfortunately we weren’t hungry yet.  So we just purchased a few items in the store and took lots of pictures.

Photo of Cross Lanes Organic Farm Shop

The third farm shop we visited was called Manor FarmA photo of Manor FarmSince it was Sunday we ordered roast beef dinners.  The food was outstanding and after our meal we meandered around until we found a barn.  Inside there were pigs who played a game of chase the pumpkin after an employee tossed them one.

A photo of pigs playing pumpkin

Have you ever visited a farm shop?   Each one is unique and special because they are real farms which make them even more fun to discover.   If I visit the UK again, I’d plan the whole trip around Farm Shops.

Village Greens Farm Shop

6 Jun
by FrancineA photo of the shop

We recently visited a farm shop in a nearby village.  ”A farm shop, what’s a farm shop ?” you may be asking. :)

A photo of the vegetablesMany farm shops dot the English countryside, but what each one offers varies.  Some have a tea room where you can have a quick bite to eat and some are on a farm site. 

But basically a farm shop is a small shop that offers locally raised produce, meat, eggs and plants.  They also have organic flour blends and specialty food items, like jams and juices.  A photo of local eggs

When I first heard ”farm shop” I imagined a shop that only sells things grown on their farm, but this isn’t really the case at the farm shops I’ve visited.  The ones I’ve been to even offer some fruits and vegetables from far away places.  But the main stock of farm shops is focused on locally produced food and goods.

I’d like to visit more farm shops because each one has cute and unique touches.

Village Greens has a lovely garden near its parking lot.  They also have a bee garden that educates visitors about different kinds of bees.  Village Greens also offers a selection of vegetables and plants that are ‘own grown‘.

Have you ever been to a farm shop?  English readers, am I accurately describing farm shops?  :)

A photo of the bee garden sign

A photo of the garden