To promote the recent British Food Fortnight (September 23-October 8), Local Food Britain linked up with Sussex lifestyle magazine Etc to highlight Charlie’s Farm Shop, a Local Food Britain member flying the flag for Sussex-made produce all year round.
Life couldn’t get busier for farmers Charlie and Sarah Hughes who not only produce milk, beef, milk-fed pork and rose veal on their 250-acre farm in Bury, Pulborough, but run an award-winning farm shop. They also make their own ice-cream, have just started producing yogurts, and juggle all of that while nurturing their young family – two-and-a-half-year-old Emily and one-year-old twins, Charlotte and Imogen.
Sarah, who runs the farm shop while Charlie works the farm, still finds time to get behind British Food Fortnight by using social media to let people know about seasonal produce and new local foods coming onto the shelves, such as blackberry jam from Loft Pickles in Washington, West Sussex and new season apples and pears from neighbouring Tullens Fruit Farm.
“People have never been so interested in quality local food, where it is produced and how fresh it is,” she says. “They want to know that the animal has had a nice life, they want to talk to our butcher to know how to cook the meat and they want to know their food has no additives. Local produce is food how it used to be.”
Recently, there has been a rise in demand for raw milk – Charlie’s Farm is one of the few farms in the south which sell this product – and there has been an increase in popularity in its local honey, supplied by Bury Bees.
By shopping and buying local, says Sarah, people can have food tailormade for them. At the farm shop, if you want beef hung a bit longer than normal, just ask butcher Ian Hurry. The same will go for venison and pheasant when it comes into the shop from October 1st from supplier South Downs Venison & Game in Duncton.
All corners of Sussex are represented on the shelves, with eggs from Horsham, bread from Billingshurst and even smoked salmon from Henfield.
With farm shops like this one, the county’s small producers have the chance to make it on to the food stage - and that can only be a good thing for Sussex foodies.