Produce with pedigree
PUBLISHED: 10:50 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:48 20 February 2013
Lady Honor Montagu, granddaughter of the eighth Duke of Wellington, runs Wellington Farm Shop near Stratfield Saye Park, her ancestral country estate.
How long have you been running the farm shop?
We opened in May 2005, with an official opening by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall in June that year. We used grant aid from DEFRA's Rural Enterprise Scheme to transform buildings which were formerly home to a Guernsey dairy herd into a shop.
What first made you open the shop?
I was trained as a chef by Marco Pierre White in London and wanted to do something with food where I grew up. (I also didn't love the hours involved in working in a restaurant). I had no retail experience, just a love of food. My father runs a farming enterprise here with a Hereford beef herd, and this seemed like the obvious link. We started the business predominantly as a butchers shop.
Tell us about the business
After stocking the Hereford beef, I went to look for good quality local farmers who used traditional farming methods. All our beef is grass fed and extensively grazed, our lambs also graze on the estate although they belong to a tenant farmer. Our pork is from Royal Berkshire pork in Chieveley, the farmer is RSPCA accredited and I have been to see him numerous times and am confident in his farming philosophy. Our poultry is free-range from Thame, and we make our own sausages and burgers and all our meat is butchered and hung on the premises.
We have a fantastic range of British cheeses with some of our best sellers being Village Maid Cheese from Riseley (not one mile from the shop) and Two Hoots Cheese in Barkham (about four miles away). We have fresh bread daily from a local baker, a full range of fruit and vegetables, local hand made chocolates, patisserie and home-made cakes. Also eggs and milk, specialist sauces, baking goods, store cupboard staples. Wellington olive oil is produced on my family's Spanish estate and honey comes from hives at Stratfield Saye.
We employ two full time butchers, two chefs and up to 20 members of staff in total.
The café serves hot and cold food to take away or to eat in and our team has been extensively trained in the art of making coffee by our Dorset-based coffee roaster.
What's the philosophy behind the business?
Good quality local food. We do get products from further afield as most of our customers are accustomed to a full range of fruit and vegetables all year round. As a foodie I will not sell anything I haven't tried or would not buy myself.
What makes Wellington different from other farm shops?
It is based around fantastic quality local food. We're a retail member of both Hampshire Fare which represents and promotes local producers of food, drink and craft based in Hampshire, and of the National Farmers Retail and Markets Association (FARMA) a co-operative of farmers and producers, representing direct sales to customers through farm shops. FARMA inspects farm retail and farmers markets to ensure that they are the real thing.
Who are your customers?
I hope and believe we have a good local following. We unfortunately are not set up to supply businesses but we do provide all the raw ingredients for our other two businesses, the Wellington Riding School and Wellington Country Park.
Give us a recipe
That would have to be Waterloo Bangers and Mustard Mash - available in the café. See www.berkshire-life.co.uk/food&drink for the recipe.