Family team open Wimberley Hall Farm Shop
Lincolnshire is undoubtedly home to some of the country’s finest tasting produce, and one family is celebrating the field to fork ethos by opening a deluxe new farm shop.
The shelves and cabinets at Wimberley Hall Farm Shop are bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables, while its giant chilled counters are stocked with one of the widest varieties of fresh meat for miles around. Nestled alongside them is an array of cooked meats, cheeses and deli products with many bearing the homegrown tag, while others have been sourced from across the county and surrounding area.
Wholesale butcher and farmer Chris Bustance is behind the new venture, which opened in July this year, in conjunction with his son Joshua and daughter Tessa.
The new shop is set in a series of farm buildings and old crew yard, which have been given a new lease of life. The family says the move has also helped them maintain the viability of their business in the long term too.
As well as selling fresh artisan produce Wimberley Hall Farm Shop, in Weston, near Spalding, also stocks a small selection of plants, birdseed, straw, hay, sweets, locally brewed beer and gift cards. Also opening soon is an adjoining cafe where customers can sit back and relax after their shopping, and enjoy a cup of real coffee, or enjoy homemade scones, quiche and sandwiches in beautiful rustic surroundings.
“The whole project was started about three years ago,” explained Mr Bustance, who has forty years’ experience as a wholesale butcher.
“I was encouraged to proceed with this venture by a dear friend, Des Barker, whom I served with meat for more than thirty-eight years. He was approaching retirement and had agreed to help with the farm shop. Unfortunately about a year into the project he passed away, tearing a big hole in all our lives.
“All the farm buildings and crew yard are original and have been carefully renovated while we’ve also converted an additional building to provide a cafe to complement the farm shop,” he added.
Mr Bustance bought Wimberley Hall Farm in around 1995, when he put 120 acres of the land down to grass, on which he rears his herd of suckler cows and calves.
Joshua raises a few commercial ewes and cows too, as well as working on the farm and in the family’s wholesale meat business, while sister Tessa keeps her own pedigree flock of Texel sheep, which she has been showing at various agricultural events to great success. This year she won the title of overall supreme Texel champion at the Lincolnshire Show, a feat she repeated a week later at the Royal Norfolk Show.
Mr Bustance said: “We’re members of Select Lincolnshire and are sourcing produce from across Lincolnshire and the surrounding area as much as we possibly can.
“We’ve got home-reared meats from the farm, and we’re sourcing lambs and cattle from other local farmers too and via auctions.”
As well as the home-reared meats, the shop’s counters are stocked with every joint and cut of lamb, pork and beef imaginable, all expertly prepared by an in-house team of butchers. Other products include a wide range of delicious homemade beef burgers, sausages – traditional Lincolnshire and other flavours such as apple and pork – marinated joints and ready prepared dishes, including Mexican beef stir fry.
Over on the cooked meat counter there’s the traditional fare of crumbed hams, sliced turkey, pork pies, pasties, haslets and sausage rolls to savour.
“We’re hoping to sell seasonal game too; several people have asked for veal and venison and as the seasons go on we’ll increase what we can offer,” said Mr Bustance.
“We’re also hoping to sell things like stuffed chine, which is a traditional Lincolnshire delicacy. If there’s something in particular that people want, they just need to ask and we’ll see what we can do.
“We’ve had several other farmers approach us about selling their produce and we support Spalding Auction, as everything goes in there fresh cut.
“We’re also stocking bread, milk and bottled water too, just in case people need them.”
The same goes for the fruit and vegetables – wherever possible they are locally sourced, although Mr Bustance admits this may be harder to achieve when it comes to the selection of fruit available, given that much of it is produced outside Lincolnshire in sunnier climes.
Baskets lining the dedicated fruit and veg room are full of fresh, seasonal carrots, potatoes, onions, loose and strung garlic, apples and sweetheart cabbages. Other local delicacies on offer include Laddies ice cream from just down the road at Holbeach, plus Lakenham ice cream produced over the county border in Norfolk.
There’s also flour and oats ground at Boston’s Maud Foster Mill; honey made in hives at Surfleet; as well as homemade jams and pickles, and Pipers Crisps. Local beers and ales brewed at the Bluebell Brewery, Whaplode St Catherines, and Heckington’s Eight Sail Brewery are also available, as well as plum loaf and cakes from Pocklingtons, in Lincoln.
Mr Bustance admits the renovation of his derelict farm buildings wouldn’t have been possible without a £50,000 Redundant Rural Building Grant.
Administered by Community Lincs, the grant was one of nineteen awarded across the county, as part of a three-year scheme run between 2009 and 2011, aimed at bringing traditional rural buildings back to life.
Another benefit of the scheme was that the renovation was carried out mainly using local craft and tradesmen, as well as local suppliers, all helping keep to any investment firmly within the county.
On top of that the shop has also created a number of new jobs in the village, with fifteen part-time positions and up to three full-time roles ranging from shop staff to skilled butchers.
“Developing the business would not have been possible without the funding, and it’s helped bring these old barns back to life for many years to come,” said Mr Bustance, “as well as maintaining the viability of the farm and guaranteeing the future of my family business.”
* Wimberley Hall Farm Shop, Stonegate, Weston, Spalding, is open 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
For more information call 01406 372702 or visit www.wimberleyhall.co.uk