New Farm Shop Serving the Community

Duchy tenants at Agardsley Cottage Farm in Staffordshire have opened a new farm shop in Hoar Cross, in response to growing levels of interest in the provenance, quality and freshness of food bought by consumers.

Charlie and Lesley Prince have been tenants at Agardsley Cottage Farm on the Needwood Estate for over twenty years.  They produce beef and lamb on the holding, and have a dairy herd at their farm where the farm shop is located.  They currently supply beef, lamb and milk to retailers across the county, including Tesco. Their plans for the new shop include the addition of a small petting farm to make this a destination site for both existing customers and visitors to the area.

Commenting on the new business venture, Charlie Prince said: “Now that Covid restrictions are easing, we expect the farm shop to do very well. One of the interesting by-products of the last year has been a growing interest in nature in general and in farming and organic products of all kinds. We believe that people have also become accustomed to ‘shopping local’ and prefer to buy their food from a known and trusted source which is close to home.”

Research from leading rural insurer NFU Mutual shows a huge increase in the number of people using farm shops during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that one in four people bought from local producers during the crisis. For many, the local farm shop served as a lifeline for vital supplies as well as providing a constant friendly presence to those living alone or in remote locations.

Working with Tesco and the Duchy, Charlie and Lesley are currently looking at entering into a Mid-Tier Stewardship Agreement, having recently introduced proactive hedge management measures, the wilding of field corners and minimum fertiliser inputs on ridge and furrow land to improve biodiversity across their holding.

Duchy Head of Rural Carol Hawkey welcomes the move to diversify farming incomes and is supportive of farming tenants seeking to maintain and enhance the environment. “This is exactly the sort of entrepreneurial drive combined with sustainable farming practices that we are keen to encourage amongst tenants. Thriving rural businesses often depend, in part, on the farmer’s ability to think creatively and holistically to take advantage of new opportunities as they emerge.”

The Deer Park can be found on Makers Lane in Hoar Cross and is open daily from 9am until 5pm.