BUYING fresh, locally-produced food from farm shops is a great way to help the environment at Christmas – and the quality will keep you going back for more. Here’s some of the region’s best.
Since its raison d’etre has always been to provide an alternative to processed foods and supermarket shopping, it is not surprising to find that ethical and responsible principles have been at the top of the agenda ever since Suma opened its doors back in the 1970s.
As a collectively owned and managed workers’ cooperative, the business supplies quality, ethically sourced food and household products to retailers and buying-groups. It embraces respect for the environment both locally and globally.
Suma is acutely aware of the need to reduce packaging and is actively passing this message back up the supply chain to manufacturers, while on a local level it continues to re-use and recycle all transit packaging as well as taking back packaging from retailers.
Its products are ethically sourced and a significant proportion bear the Fairtrade mark. There are certain commodities that are only grown in specific regions of the world and over these they have little control.
Regrettably some impact on the environment is unavoidable. This is remedied by being actively involved in local schemes for tree planting and river cleaning. All the electricity used is from renew-able sources and a rainwater-harvesting project is in hand.
In the interests of putting back into the immediate community, Suma has for some time been supplying healthy option snack packs to schools in West Yorkshire.
Brockbushes Farm Shop and Tea Rooms in Corbridge (30 minutes from Newcastle on the A69) boasts award-winning, quality, homemade fine foods, as well as a fully-stocked farm shop. The farm has 35 acres of soft fruit and five acres of vegetables and is renowned for its pick-your-own facilities from mid-June to the end of October. New for this summer are tractor and trailer rides. Quad bikes are on site every weekend.
“Low on mileage but high on taste” has always been the ethos at Blagdon Farm shop. Here you’ll find free range and rare-breed meat including pork, chicken, guinea fowl and duck, plus fresh seasonal vegetables.
Most of the produce on sale in this Routier-listed family-run farm shop, near Stocksfield, North-umberland, is either grown or made on the spot. Ham and bacon are cured on the premises and own-recipe sausages are sold alongside milk, homemade butter, British cheeses and free-range eggs.
Vicky and Peter Moffitt run Vallum Farm Shop and Cafe, near Stamfordham, Northumberland. About 50% of the stock is from producers who trade at the Hexham Farmers’ Market.
The pair use as many products from Northumberland as possible: vegetables when they are available, local jams, chutneys, oats and flour from Heatherslaw, Chainbridge Honey, salmon and bacon from the Bywell Smokery, cheese from the Northumberland Cheese Company, sausages from Ian Byatt of Stannington and Doddington ice cream.
Why not try some of their famous pork and chestnut stuffing? Or sample the Vallum yoghurt which comes in four flavours.
Vallum Farm also has a cafe.
North Country Organics
Producers of organic fruit and vegetable boxes, this family-run business has just taken over a Victorian walled garden which will enable them to provide home-grown produce from less than 10 miles away. Boxes start from £13 and can be taken weekly, fortnightly or just once.
The organic Taste of the North box at £39 includes in-season fruit and vegetables, eggs, milk, bread, sausages, burgers or bacon and a joint of choice or a free range chicken.
Boxes will be delivered as normal in the week beginning December 17, but then there is a two-week break. Anyone wanting to order a Christmas box should let the firm know as soon as possible.