A Shropshire estate and award-winning farm shop which champions great tasting, home-grown and artisan food is supporting the NFU’s Back British campaign.
The Apley Estate, at Norton, near Shifnal, has added its weight to the Union’s bid to promote British farming and the wealth of quality produce being grown just over the hedgerow.
The estate, owned by Lord and Lady Hamilton of Dalzell, has a successful farm shop, café, play barn, nature trail, animal park and other shops and is a popular destination for food lovers and families looking for a great day out.
Harvest is also in full swing at the estate, managed by former Shropshire NFU Chairman Adrian Joynt, as they grow commercial oilseed rape, wheat and barley.
The estate also has a suckler beef herd and a sheep flock of Suffolk cross ewes sired by Charollais and Texel rams, which supply the early Easter lamb trade.
Apley’s support for Back British comes just days after it was revealed that the UK’s self-sufficiency in home-grown food has fallen.
The NFU has calculated that Shropshire and the rest of the country is only 60 per cent self-sufficient, a staggering fall of more than 15 per cent since 1991.
The Union has called for a growth plan for the industry to help generate the right environment for investment, sustainability and on-farm productivity.
Lord Gavin said: “If more people ate in season they would get better value food and we do need to see more British produce on the shelves, although imports have their place.
“Here at Apley we offer fabulous products, are encouraging more people to buy British and we support the NFU campaign.
“We grow our own vegetables in the walled garden, we haven’t tried to replicate a traditional Victorian walled garden, but we are growing in a modern, but low input fashion, as naturally as we can on a small scale.
“We have enough courgettes and patty pan squash here for our customers to eat nothing else for the next month; however, we have great variety in the farm shop which people should come and try.
“I think it’s important to go back to seasonal, local food wherever you can and to look at traditional vegetables and other produce as they are great for taste.”
Lord Hamilton said they have handmade produce and meat, game and lamb from the estate, for their farm shop and deli, alongside great local food and drink from other producers.
Apley’s Farm Shop is like a food hall with vegetables from their Walled Garden, less a mile away from the shop.
“We’re providing other producers with a market and we see it as helping the local Shropshire food economy and we also take good, quality artisan food and drink from elsewhere,” he said.
“I would like to thank our regular customers for their support and of course we welcome new ones.
“I would also encourage everyone to buy British, to try things that are different and be adventurous with what they eat; there are some great ingredients and products just waiting to be discovered.”
The NFU has also teamed up with the Apley Farm Shop team to offer one lucky winner a hamper packed with an array of mouth-watering, high quality food and drink.
The competition, which runs until Sunday 17 August, is open to everyone and can be entered on the NFU Online Facebook page.
Gavin and Harriet Hamilton, Lord and Lady Hamilton of Dalzell, established the farm shop in 2011and last year the business won the coveted Rising Star award from the National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association.
John Mercer, NFU West Midlands regional director, said farmers and growers had a fantastic natural capacity to produce more quality British food, given the right market signals and the confidence to invest.
He said: “Apley is a standout example of a business making great strides to champion delicious, seasonal food and drink alongside the demands of operating a larger, commercial estate and I applaud them for their excellent efforts.
“Despite Shropshire farmers and growers working smarter, driving efficiency to produce more with less impact and taking advantage of the latest science and technology; we are seeing our self-sufficiency drop off at a worrying rate.
“If we stored all of the food produced in the UK in a year, shoppers would have just 219 days of produce available to them and have to rely on imports for the rest; this needs to improve.
“The NFU is calling for a growth plan for agriculture as part of its Back British Farming campaign to help halt the decline and drive investment.
“Consumers are increasingly showing their support for British farming and they are our best ally and we continue to thank them for backing the industry.”
For further details about the NFU’s Back British Farming campaign go to /back-british-farming/
Members of the public looking for a great family day out and exceptional ingredients, food and drink can go to http://apleyfarmshop.co.uk/