Forage is open. It’s been years in the planning but finally the family dream has become a reality. The passionate team at Forage Farm Shop and Kitchen, the exciting new shop and restaurant at Penllyn Estate Farm on the edge of Cowbridge (just 20-30 minutes from Cardiff), say they are all about local, seasonal produce, but what does this actually mean in practice? Damien Burnell, the General Manager who has worked on the Estate since he was sixteen years old, talked to us about the ‘farm to fork’ concept that is so central to the Forage ethos.
“When we talk about quality, consider our beef. We fully appreciate that not everybody chooses to eat meat, but those of our customers that do should notice a real difference compared to the supermarket equivalent. The improved flavour and texture are due to good husbandry, careful management and minimal food miles. Our Aberdeen Angus cows are grass fed and reared outdoors, before being finished on a diet of good quality haylage and barley. They are not subjected to a long, stressful journey at the end of their lives.
“As regards community, we are loving working alongside other farmers and artisan producers. Our dairy products are supplied by Ty Tanglwyst Farm near Pyle, our bread comes from Windy Wick Bakery, and our brownies and Florentines come from Food with Flora in Cowbridge. And that’s not to mention the Coaltown Coffee served at our coffee bar, which comes from Ammanford in the Valleys. There’s loads of talent on our doorstep, and we’re delighted to reap the benefit of that.”
Like many conscientious businesses, the team at Forage is striving to be as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible. In due course, solar panels will power the shop and restaurant, and light pours into the airy interior of the Siberian larch building through myriad sky lights. As little plastic as possible is used in the shop and restaurant; at the chic new butcher’s counter, meat is wrapped in traditional grease proof paper.
But the biggest credential in terms of sustainability is the origin of the produce – with the meat coming from the surrounding fields, the veg grown locally and the eggs coming from Penllyn Estate’s own free range brood. Damien comments “the fact you can buy a lamb chop in the supermarket that has come from New Zealand, when we have the highest quality lamb in the world on our doorstep, just seems wrong.”
So what were our impressions of its launch day?
We had to visit on its opening day and came away with some amazing quality produce: beautiful lamb chops, oversize eggs, a few different Welsh cheeses and some scrummy Bara Brith from Baked By Mel (another local producer), oh and some local honey. Sadly, due to Welsh Government Covid restrictions the beautiful cafe with its lovely views of the farm isn’t open yet but we were treated to a complimentary coffee, and very good coffee too! We spoke to several visitors and all agreed that it was a fabulous enterprise and something they would certainly return to and, more than likely, become regular shoppers.
It is clear that a huge amount of thought has gone into every decision in terms of design and customer experience. With the original April launch postponed due to the pandemic, Forage is finally open for business.
Vale of Glamorgan
Monday to Saturday 8:30am – 5:30pm
Sunday 9am – 4pm
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