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Farm shop chic
Hawarden Farm Shop
Hawarden Farm Shop hosts its own food festivals to promote local produce

By Nick Bourne

From an old image of 'pick your own' fruit farms with a set of scales on a wobbly table in a field to fashionable cafes with home cooked food, farms are changing.

Add to that a rise in the frequency and number of farmers' markets and the popularity of food festivals, serves to show a shift in consumers' taste for food.

TV chefs have long been arguing the benefits of using locally sourced produce - and people, it seems, are listening.

Among the farm shops changing with the times is Swans' , Treuddyn, near Mold, which sells local and seasonal produce under the banner 'fine food' and having previously been judged in a national competition, Wales' 'best farm shop' no less.

Another is Hawarden Estate Farm Shop which, two years ago, was a common or garden 'PYO' or pick your own farm.

woman
PYO or pick your own fruit farms are going upmarket

Now, owner Charlie Gladstone uses 24 acres of the estate to grow fruit and vegetables which is turned into produce and sold direct to consumers via a purpose built shop and cafe on-site.

"We've just taken delivery of 1,000 bottles of pear juice and apple juice, using fruit from our orchards, and also our own jams and chutneys," says shop manager Alan Downes.

"Our customers welcome products created from what we've grown here on the estate."

Mirroring Swans' success, Hawarden Farm Shop won retailer of the year 2008 in the annual Wales the True Taste Food and Drink Awards.

And the shop has been shortlisted in this year's finals (19 November), along with other local producers - Caffi Florence, Loggerheads, near Mold; and The Village Bakery, Coedpoeth, near Wrexham.

The awards are managed by the Welsh Assembly Government which, this summer, launched an 'Ultimate Guide to Welsh Food and Drink Producers'.

stall
A busy stall at the monthly town centre Wrexham Farmers' Market

It is backed up online with the Wales True Taste website which has a directory showing the array of local producers and which can be searched by county.

Among them, you'll find Anne's Patisserie , now well known for its homemade cakes, and which sells its wares from farm shops and local delis. The business was started by Anne and James Elwood from their three bed semi in Bryn y Baal, near Mold, but is now based in premises in Flint.

They've just returned from a busy Conwy Food Festival which, like Mold Food Festival and Llangollen Food Festival also host directories of local food producers.

Produce swap-shop

There are other ways people are shopping for locally farmed produce.

In Mold, Bryn Gwalia Food Co-op is a not-for-profit group sourcing seasonal fruit and vegetables grown locally. There are more than 200 householders on their books and, on average, 60 orders are placed a week.

The idea to buy home grown produce has taken off so much that the group is now looking for land in Mold to start their own veg plots.

Another alternative is a Saturday produce swap-shop at Halkyn's Blue Bell pub where home grown fruit and veg can be exchanged.

Are you growing your own or supporting local producers?


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