After a lengthy delay, following the outbreak of the pandemic, Forage Farm Shop and Kitchen finally opened its doors to customers on Monday, 29th June. Reflecting on the first two weeks, owner John Homfray commented, “The footfall has exceeded all expectations, and the positive feedback has been so encouraging. A lot of people have worked incredibly hard to get to this point – both on the farm and in the shop itself. Looking around this past couple of weeks, feeling the buzz and seeing the team going full throttle – I’m really proud.”
Most of the produce sold in the shop originates in Wales, with a significant amount – meat, vegetables, eggs, honey, rapeseed oil – coming from the Estate itself. “In many ways, the butchers counter is the centrepiece,” says John. “My father loved working with the cattle and he also had an entrepreneurial spirit; he would’ve so enjoyed seeing all this. Our fabulous butchers have been flat out – beef, lamb, pork and poultry are all doing well. I’m not unduly surprised because people like quality, and your average shopper is far more knowledgeable than some of these big supermarkets might think.”
Also on the shelves are myriad other products – over 2,000 lines – ranging from fresh local bread, wine and spirits, a selection of Welsh cheeses and a traditional sweets corner. Beyond the shop floor is the coffee bar, serving Coaltown Coffee (produced in Ammanford). “After such an unsettling and worrying few months, people seem very happy to be able to venture out and buy a good coffee again,” says John.
From the restaurant, a broad range of delicious takeaway food is currently available – from scotch eggs and pulled pork baps, to potato salad and pickled beetroot. As the country starts to get back on its feet after several months in suspended animation, what next? “Like many shops and restaurants across the UK, we are gradually being allowed to open up,” says John. “Customers can now enjoy food and beverages while enjoying a view of the Thaw Valley from our terrace and lawn area. As soon as it is safe to do so, we will open our restaurant. That will be a great day, as our chefs are superb and they are chomping at the bit to step things up.”
Reading through the online reviews, it is clear that many people believe the arrival of Forage will be a great thing for the Vale. “That is very pleasing” says John. “The more people that visit Cowbridge, the better. We need to get things moving again, and support our local economies.”
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