An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
Walsingham Farms Shops
Tel: 01485 570002
An impressively converted barn housing all manner of locally sourced produce with open meat and deli kitchens where you can observe the preparation of your food before you buy. Connecting local producers directly with customers, this is a farm shop that caters for all your needs and more.
Where to find it
Walsingham farm shops have two premises, the original being based in Little Walsingham in an old flint barn. Two years ago they expanded to open a second store at Norfolk Lavender in Heacham (14 miles from Kings Lynn on the A149) where they now occupy a converted barn at the back of the mill. This building used to be the old lavender distillery when Henry Head owned the business. Since being taken over, Norfolk Lavender has changed and expanded somewhat, one such improvement being the welcome addition of this large farm shop. Norfolk Lavender is a perfect location for a day out (look out for a review shortly) and the farm shop also runs the cafe/restaurant on site called The Lavender Kitchen where it cooks and serves the produce available to buy in the shop.
What to expect
Walsingham farm shops are passionate about what they sell and what it means to the surrounding community. Their vision is to bring local producers in contact with their customers and to educate about how the countryside is shaped by food production. They do this through open farm Sundays, school visits and farm walks, but ultimately through the locally sourced quality produce they sell in their stores. Everything is fresh and as nature intended; no preservatives or added ingredients, it’s all sold in its healthiest form. If you want organic, homemade and local, then this is where to shop.
The barn is an impressive site, split into five main sections: meat counter, bottled corner, deli counter, fruit and vegetables and everyday essentials.
Farmers, market gardeners, allotment holders, cheese makers, millers, beekeepers, brewers, home cooks and jam makers, they’re all Norfolk locals and their produce fills the shelves.
The extensive meat counter has an open kitchen where you can observe all preparation. You’ll find endless options of quality fresh meat, poultry and game here. The beef comes from Hill House Farm in Walsingham, the pork from Morley Farm in South Creake and their venison from Houghton Hall. All well as all manner of cuts, they also do oven ready joints such as stuffed pork loin and meats in marinades.
The large deli counter is again an open kitchen where they make their own sausage rolls, pies, pasties, quiches, fresh soups, casseroles and puddings. You’ll find a good selection of local cheeses, many from Mrs Temple at Copy’s Green Farm in Wighton, plus others such as Norfolk White Lady, a ewe’s milk cheese from Willow Farm Dairy in Wymondham. There’s also chorizo picante and salami, frittata and tarts, smoked fish and pates from Cley Smoke House, and a selection of homemade desserts and ice creams.
You’ll find unusual jars of jams and marmalades such as pina colada, citrus delight and strawberry with sparkling wine, plus sauces and mayonnaises. There’s a large selection of wines and non alcoholic drinks and many local beers from small Norfolk brewers. Nelson Blood is produced in Heacham itself by Fox Brewery who also produces a lavender honey beer.
The fruit and vegetables offer all that is in season and can be grown locally. The walk around display stand provides a focal point to the barn too. Everyday essentials aisles include locally baked artisan breads, free range eggs from Top Farm in Great Snoring, and flour from Letheringsett Watermill. In fact if you visit their main website, you can find the origin of every product they sell.
The lavender kitchen
Everything in the farm shop is pretty much sold ready to cook but if you want to eat right away, you’ll find all their food used in the neighbouring Lavender Kitchen, a large cafe restaurant with extensive seating and a menu that’s ever changing. Try before you buy is a perfect excuse for lunch or an afternoon tea and opening from 8am it’s also a good place to start the day with a spot of breakfast and a morning paper.
I’m proud of the county I live in and Walsingham farm shop is a fitting example of the community working together to produce something special. Being able to buy all the food Norfolk has to offer all under one roof is not only a real achievement for the locals, it’s also a treat for anyone wanting to experience good old fashioned cooking. I’ve been to the shop and the restaurant on many occasions and have never been disappointed. I can highly recommend the Sunday roast and am partial to a slice of frittata to take away but that’s just me, find your own favourites as you undoubtedly will.
Walsingham farm shop is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm, Saturdays 9am to 5pm and Sundays 10am to 4pm. The Lavender kitchen opens from 8am daily and every third Thursday it opens in the evening for a three course menu £20 a head. Visit the main website to learn more about the open farm days and guided walks.