Groombridge Farm Shop: The Story So Far
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Inspired by his experience growing up near, and working on the first asparagus farm in Kent at Newenden, Michael Bourne, when the opportunity arose, planted asparagus on his own farm, New Park Farm in Groombridge. The first farm stall, a “Punch and Judy” outfit, was set up on the edge of the farm in 1993 to sell the asparagus. The Asparagus Hut grew, selling a wider range of produce from the farm and was rebuilt three times to accommodate the growing trade. As well as ourselves we now have over 60 suppliers, the majority coming from within Kent and Sussex.
SUSTAINABILITY AT THE FARM and SHOP
Both on the farm and at the shop we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment, promoting sustainability in all we do. All produce is sourced as locally as possible, reducing food miles. We use exclusively drip irrigation at New Park Farm and the manure from the horses feeds our crops, adding essential organic matter to our sandy soil. All fruit and veg at the shop is offered loose so customers can choose exactly how much to buy, no plastic bags are offered, we recycle boxes and have our own “bags for life”. We use compostable punnets for selling our own soft fruits.
We supply the “To Good to Go” scheme, via their food waste app, supporting those within our community with limited financial resources. The chickens are then fed the waste fruit and veg which is no longer edible.
We believe it to be important that customers are reminded about where there food is produced (signs in the shop will show this), reminded about seasonality (better for the planet and certainly more flavoursome and enjoyable), reminded about food security (local entrepreneurs cooking, baking and processing to produce delicious fresh and unique products). This means that sometimes we will not have produce on our shelves that the supermarkets will have.
SERVING THE COMMUNITY
Serving the local community is important to us. We deliver to customers within a 5 mile radius and to those unable to come to the shop for whatever reason. We support local community events throughout the year; local school functions, village fetes and shows, and independent charities. We fundraise throughout the year; Macmillan and Hospice in the Weald are our main beneficiaries.
We are members of the “TN Card”, a Tunbridge Wells inspired scheme that rewards customers for shopping locally. We also support “Charlie’s Angels” who repurpose food that would otherwise go to waste.
OUR LONG TERM VISION
Groombridge Farm Shop will continue to have local provenance as our goal, with seasonality and sustainability as important key issues. In response to customer demand, we now have a “bean to cup” take away coffee facility. We have developed a close relationship with our customers and we offer our shop as a community hub where people can meet and relax. We shall continue to support local growers, cooks, bakers and processors. At New Park Farm we have plans to extend our production in 2023/4 to include more top fruit, specifically apples and pears, as well as some selected new vegetables.