WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
When we started out, one of our main objectives was to be the producer of as much of what we sold as possible. This remains very much at the heart of our ethos today.
We rear Large White pigs crossed with Duroc and Landrace breeds and sell them solely through our butchers. White Row customers even get to meet some of our pigs which are kept on site! The free range eggs we sell are home produced as well and have proved a popular venture for White Row. We started with 400 hens but due to the huge increase in our egg sales we have now added another 350 to our flock. The hens lay in a large dry barn but are able to run about outside in the daytime. As well as pork and eggs, we also grow as many of the potatoes, vegetables and salads as we can.
As well as White Row’s own produce, we also sell as much local produce as possible and are keen to support other farmers in the area. As customers grow more wary of large-scale supermarkets, we strive to be friendlier, serve better quality produce and support the community as much as possible. After all, we are a farm ourselves and supporting the community has always been part of farming. It’s just in our nature.
HOW WE STARTED
White Row Farm is a pig and arable farm. It has been for the last 40 years. Towards the end of the 1990’s the pig industry experienced a down turn and we decided the only way to save the business was to diversify. White Row happened to be in an ideal location for retail development, being just off the the roundabout on the busy A36, so we took a huge gamble and decided to develop one of the farrowing houses into a farm shop. The farm shop opened in July 2000 and, despite having to close for six weeks in spring 2001 due to foot and mouth, it has been going from strength to strength ever since.
In 2003 we were fortunate enough to obtain a Rural Diversification grant from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) which enabled us to to build the cafe and butchery within the farm shop and the Garden & Gift shop.
WHAT ARE YOUR LONGER-TERM AIMS/OBJECTIVES?
We want to continue with what we are doing, if we increase or expand what we offer it will be organically as we need. We added in a covered outdoor seating section as more and more people want to eat outside but the weather of course is unpredictable. We want to remain easy to park for those less mobile, for families with kids and pushchairs but want to offer something the high street doesn’t, like our traditional fish counter and our own reared White Row pig.
We have recently added an online florist to our website to complement the busy florists on site and will increase our online shopping offering. We have built up a great following digitally too and want to continue to grow that so that we can share what we’re doing, like our summer food tasting days or our famous Christmas Shopping nights (who doesn’t like a free mince pie!?)
WHAT ARE YOUR ETHICS?
When we started out, one of our main objectives was to be the producer of as much of what we sold as possible. This remains very much at the heart of our ethos today. As well as pork and eggs, we also grow as many of the potatoes, vegetables and salads as we can for use in our own café and restaurant and in the shop.
Where possible we select local suppliers focusing on minimising food miles. We also source products at a competitive price, allowing us to pass the savings on to our customers.
We listen to the needs of our customers and address their needs in the products we offer. Many of our customers are incredibly loyal and their feedback is relevant and vital to our future. The relationships we build with our suppliers is one of the core values at White Row, getting them to engage directly with our customers at regular tasting days and offers days supporting things like British breakfast week, national fish & chip day or national tea day!
We invite new suppliers to hold tasting sessions and encourage customer feedback, prior to becoming permanent. It's a great way to interact with our suppliers but great for them to hear direct from customers about what they like, need and want.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRADING?
45 years farming and 17 years as a farm and farm shop. We support and supply local products and producers. We regularly hold tasting days at the farm (usually in July) where we invite them all to come and bring tasters for customers and promote their goods – great for our customers and great for them!
Because we want to remain sustainable and local, we produce what we need for our own farm shop, restaurant and business rather than producing more and supplying further afield. For instance we work closely with:
Ivy Farm Dairy
Hobbs House Bakery
Frome’s milk street brewery
Marshfield ice cream
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS/ WHAT YOU DO?
What is produced and reared at White Row can only be bought or consumed at White Row!
We rear our own pigs at White Row which provide pork for the restaurant and deli counter and butchers. We rear enough to use here only. The vegetables we grow and the wheat we grow to make bread, are all sold in the shop and used in the café and restaurant here only.
We also have a wide range of food and drink available here including a licensed café, a fish and chip restaurant and takeaway, a fresh fish counter, a cheese counter, butchers, a deli stocked with a huge home cooked range which includes a lot of choice for food intolerances too (wheat free, dairy free, vegan, raw etc). We’re constantly developing that so that we not only meet but excel at it, we don’t want one wheat free option on the deli we want a choice, the same choice that all customers have. We have wheat free batter for the fish and chip restaurant and takeaway too.
We do a lot of seasonal items too, open an ice cream shack in the summer and turn the old refurbished piggery building into a Christmas tree shop.
We are surprisingly, a fairly rare thing, a farm that has a shop, not a farm that has become a shop instead or a farm without a shop but all of it. Farmers own and run the business, we have a huge amount of experience in farming and we’ve diversified over the years to offer what’s best for the community and best for farming.
TELL US ABOUT SOME OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS WITHIN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY:
Supporting local partners is really important to us and we'll get involved in all sorts of things! For example - Frome Festival www.fromefestival.co.uk running an event to support this:
- We outreach to all villages in area.
- We support many local charities including https://www.facebook.com/willberrywonderponywristbands/
- Local children have been invited for free story telling in our cafe.
- Our events are always included in the surrounding schools newsletters.
Steve and Heather are real pillars of that community and as long time farmers and locals the foundation of everything we do. Historically they have also help and advised other local businesses.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE FARM?
We are a working farm not just a shop. The shop is integral but so is farming. We do both. We constantly innovate when it comes to both farming and the shop. What we grow, what we rear is sold via our shop, it’s a real community, its our very own food village.