03 July 2020, 09:07 AM
  • Chef proprietor of La Fosse at Cranborne, Mark Hartstone, on supporting local suppliers in a rural community
“Most of the family businesses have changed their operations to survive lockdown”

La Fosse at Cranborne in rural north Dorset has (for 13 years under our ownership) been perfectly placed to source great ingredients from small local suppliers. Artisan producers can be erratic. For example pigeons attacking a plot may mean purple sprouting destined for our table becomes part of the animal kingdom’s food chain. Having less than half a dozen tables and one chef these challenges are less of a problem to us. A trip to the allotment or our little wood means a replacement can be foraged in no time, or even a menu tweaked and reprinted mid service is a way of life.

The interaction with suppliers personally means greater depth of product detail being passed on and the knowledge that the cost of goods is going directly to the maker. Less food miles, real known provenance, bespoke service and shorter time for field to plate are all inherent positives.

Cranborne is a rare commodity these days, a rural community which is almost self-sufficient. More people are employed within the village than those that have to leave it for work. The Cranborne Estate, local land owner, helps to develop small start-up firms based in the village. A real culinary vibe permeates the parish. Village stores, Orchard Bay Bakery, Sixpenny Brewery and tap room, Cranborne Bakery, Book and Bucket creamery, Cranborne Garden Centre café and shops, WRVS Book shop (with a massive food section), Wine shop at 10 Castle St. club, Fleur de Lys Inn promises an alfresco cookery school and the Sheaf of Arrows is known for unpretentious good value refreshments. Even the local members sports club has an admired drinks list featuring many local breweries.  

Most of the family businesses have changed their operations to survive lockdown. Alix Fauvel Cakesmith of Cranborne Bakery has started selling her wonderful cakes in selection boxes online, her wares previously had been only available at events and the likes of Selfridges.

The newly formed (18 months ago) Book and Bucket creamery specializes in ewes milk cheeses. A Jersey cow rich golden Halloumi that came about when a local farmer was desperate to sell his quality milk during lockdown instead of it going down the drain when demand dropped is now complimenting their six or so other lines. A cheese care selection pack can be delivered throughout Dorset and Hampshire from them. A local charcuterie pack compliments their own fair as well. The likes of chef James Golding (Pig Hotel Group) and Restaurateur James Fowler are regulars picking up bespoke cheeses, waste whey or other provisions from the village.

Cranborne Chase Cider is a few clicks out of the village sells from a shepherds hut on the farm and so too supplies the village shop with manageable bag in box containers perfect to fill a fridge shelf. Dorsecco their medium sweet keeved cider is a winner at encouraging consumption of a home grown tipple as opposed to imported prosecco.

Meggy Moos another north Dorset farm supplies milk to us and Cranborne Stores by the refillable pail eliminating the need for single use plastic. Locals visit the shop daily for glass bottle top ups. Their farm shop is always expanding and contains milk dispensers too which are becoming the norm in north Dorset.

The community supporting our ready meal initiative during lockdown has meant we have just kept out head above the water allowing us to reopen the B&B and the Restaurant at La Fosse in mid-July. Very importantly too it has meant we have in turn been able to continue supporting our producers in and around the Cranborne Chase.

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