Tom Bowles is in the fifth generation of family farmers at Hartley Farm, Bath. Our recent interview with him delves into everything from why he loves to cook a pie midweek using Falcon to their amazing local producers and community, to how they have had to completely reinvent their business through everything that’s happened this past year.
RETAILERS, RESTAURANTS, RETREATS
RETAILER • RESTAURANT • HARTLEY FARM • BATH, UK
F: Can you tell us about Hartley Farm?
TB. On the farm, we produce grass-fed beef and grow organic fruit & vegetables. We opened a farm shop and kitchen back in 2008 to try to control our own future better rather than selling to a commodity market and to try and create our own local market for our farm produce and we haven't looked back since!
F. What made you decide to open a farm shop and kitchen?
TB. Previously, we were commercial farming and had no control of our own destiny. Farming is in my blood and so moving away from it completely was never an option. I've always had a real passion for food, from producing it to cooking and obviously eating it and would spend hours in farmers markets loving the process of really getting to know where my food was coming from. We then had an opportunity in 2008 to convert a small barn on the farmyard very cheaply and quickly and give retailing from the farm a go. We have grown steadily over the years since. We've also developed into becoming a hub and a marketplace for other local farmers and growers either through our farm shop or our farm kitchen which we are very proud of.
F. You use Falcon in the kitchen and have recently started selling Falcon enamelware at your farm shop. What’s your favourite product and what do you use it for?
TB. We've collected a few in our house over the years as they are indestructible! We've used the plates in our farm kitchen for years as they are a perfect complement to our homemade cakes and very useful in being childproof! They also get a regular run out for quick, light lunches at home and pack up perfectly for picnics and trips to the beach so it would be hard to go without them!
F. Is there a specific dish that you would personally make using any of our Falcon products?
C. A midweek chicken and leek pie with the leftovers from Sunday's roast is a perfect partner for the pie dish! We're all about the promotion of eating less meat but choosing better quality options and in doing so and making the ingredients last longer. Mastering your leftovers is key to this and you've got to have the right dish for the perfect pie!
F. Are there any other local companies you'd like to shout about?
TB. We are blessed with so many amazing local producers. Very close to our heart are the brilliant producers based on our farm. We have an amazing duo, Nathan and Angie, who create incredible sourdough in their small bakery in the Old Forge at Hartley Farm. We also have a 2.5-acre organic market garden which is run by Kate Collyns. Kate supplies us with beautiful veggies, herbs and salads all year round and is currently gearing up for a very busy spring!
F. How have you been keeping during this time? Do you have any tips for small business owners?
TB. It's been a testing year for us having to completely reinvent our business. We had an extremely busy cafe side to our business which was obviously badly affected. However, we did our best to roll with the punches and stay nimble and we expanded our farm shop and launched our online shop. Our community has been so supportive of us and we've done our best to repay their faith and be there for them. Whether that be through our contactless shopping services or just a takeaway coffee and cake out in the garden, we've done our best to keep spirits lifted. I think that's all you can do as a small business, find your niche, put everything into being the best you can at it and try to be a beacon of positivity for people. There is enough doom and gloom being pushed at us at the moment so be the exception to the rule!
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