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Blacker Hall Farm Shop Announced the Best in Britain

Multi award-winning Blacker Hall Farm Shop In Wakefield has been named the best in Britain. The Calder Grove business has been chosen as the UK’s Best Farm Shop after being awarded the 2014 Farm Retailer of the Year title in annual awards run by FARMA, the National Farmers’ Retail & Markets Association.

The awards honour the cream of the country’s on-farm retailers and leading local food businesses, and add to Blacker Hall’s multiple local, regional and national accolades. In 2011, the shop was chosen as the UK’s Best On-Farm Butchery, again in the FARMA awards, and was last year crowned Wakefield Food Retailer of the Year. For good measure, the business was also a finalist in the Best On-Farm Butchery and Best On-Farm Café categories of this year’s FARMA awards.

Blacker Hall Farm Shop’s Edward and Cheryl Garthwaite are pictured centre with their FARMA Farm Retailer of the Year award, joined by other members of their team.

Blacker Hall Farm Shop’s Edward and Cheryl Garthwaite are pictured centre with their FARMA Farm Retailer of the Year award, joined by other members of their team.

Independent FARMA awards judges described Blacker Hall Farm Shop, which rears livestock on its own farm and has its own award-winning restaurant and coffee shop, The Barn, as “a first-class farm retail business, very well managed front-of-house and behind the scenes. The Barn is a beautiful place to eat, with a simple, well-executed menu. Service and product knowledge in the farm shop and café was excellent.”

After receiving their latest FARMA “farm to fork” national award, Blacker Hall Farm Shop owners Edward and Cheryl Garthwaite dedicated it “to our loyal customers and devoted team of staff for their support and appreciation of fresh local produce.”

Michael Mack, managing agent for FARMA, said: "To win one of the FARMA awards you have to be very good. Blacker Hall Farm Shop is just that. Not only did the judges experience that, but the secret shopper report all contestants have to go through also showed that every visitor is treated with great customer care and a wonderful array of meat from the family’s farm. Blacker Hall is a must visit farm shop for anyone who believes in great food with a great provenance.”

Since being established in 1999 on the fifth generation family farm, Blacker Hall Farm Shop has gone from strength to strength and represents one of the region’s business success stories, developing and cementing both a local and national reputation.

Ongoing investment and development have created a virtual one-stop-shop, comprising an in-house butchery, craft bakery, delicatessen, wine loft and general groceries section. In addition to the café, there is also an on-site gift shop and florist.

Blacker Hall farms 800 acres, both grassland and arable, producing feed for 500 Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, Simmental, British Blue and Limousin beef cattle, and 1,200 pigs – all sold through the farm shop and restaurant.

These are supplemented by further prime beef, lamb, poultry and game, sourced through established supply partnerships with reputable local farmers. In fact, the local supply philosophy remains key to the ethos of the entire business.

“Over three-quarters of all the products we sell are either made or prepared on-site, supplemented by local, seasonal and fresh produce from the Wakefield area, Yorkshire the north-east. We are fully committed to supporting local farmers and other specialist producers and, in turn, both the local and regional economy at every opportunity,” stressed Cheryl Garthwaite.

Blacker Hall Farm Shop employs a workforce of around 130 people, serves 6,000-plus customers a week and has experienced year on year growth. It is on target to achieve turnover of £5 million in the current financial year.

The business is a member of the national Butchers Q Guild, comprising 120 elite butchers from Inverness to Cornwall. Blacker Hall Farm Shop has also bagged multiple gold awards for its products in both Q Guild product evaluation events and other meat trade competitions, among them a string of Great Taste Awards. The Barn restaurant and coffee shop was voted ‘Best Restoration’ project in 2011 by the Wakefield Civic Society.

Blacker Hall Farm Shop also runs a thriving Customer Club that now has in excess of 15,000 members. “We truly value our loyal customers and reward them with exclusive offers on a monthly basis,” explained Mrs Garthwaite.

Looking to the future, the business is on schedule to make a start on further improvement work this Spring, including a new shop entrance and extension to the retail area, along with a landscaped car park.

Edward Garthwaite said: “Our aim over two generations has always been to sell the meat we produce through our own farm shop, to provide an exceptional eating and shopping experience built on our commitment to outstanding customer service and fresh local and seasonal produce.

“Our longer-term vision is to be nationally recognised as one of the 'must visit' food destinations in Yorkshire and our success to date clearly demonstrates that we are well on the way to achieving this dream, though we remain fully committed to continuing to be the first choice for discerning local people.

“One thing’s for sure – we will never rest on our laurels, a fact also recognised by FARMA judges in awarding us the Best Farm Shop of the Year title.”


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