Talking Shop: go behind the scenes of Daylesford

30 June 2021, 07:38 AM
  • Nick Fletcher, CEO of Daylesford Organic, welcomes you to its destination farm shop with organic credentials at its core
Talking Shop: go behind the scenes of Daylesford

The seed that grew into Daylesford Organic was sown over forty years ago when Carole Bamford recognised the importance and benefits of organic farming.

In the late 1970s, Carole Bamford was in the garden with her eldest daughter Alice. Carole went to look at the roses she had planted a few days earlier only to find they were wilting. She spoke to the neighbouring farmer who explained that the farms were being sprayed with a powerful herbicide that had caused her roses to wilt.

Carole became concerned that these chemicals were harming the land, the soil and surrounding wildlife. Carole set out to seek alternatives that would be kinder to the planet and work in harmony with nature and spearheaded the conversion of her family’s farmland to organic.

In 2002, Daylesford Organic farmshop opened three weeks before Christmas selling homemade soups, sandwiches and tea alongside meat, cheese, a few vegetables and bread. Today, Daylesford has four farmshops in Pimlico, Notting Hill, Marylebone and Brompton Cross areas of London.

The family’s estates in Staffordshire and Daylesford in the Cotswolds are both fully certified organic by the Soil Association and are committed to sustainable farming. What began as a simple passion for real food and a desire to feed our children better has grown into Daylesford as we know it today, one of the most sustainable organic farms in the UK. Daylesford is dedicated to growing, producing and cooking real food, organically.

Who’s in the farm shop team?

Daylesford Organic is made up of hugely passionate artisans and specialists. Our founder, Carole Bamford, is recognised as a visionary in organic farming and healthy food retailing. Richard Smith is the senior farms manager who believes strongly that organic methods have a huge role to play in feeding our ever-growing population in a sustainable and healthy way.

Jez Taylor heads the Market Garden where we grow a wide range of organic herbs, salads, fruit and vegetables to stock the farmshops, cafes and our neighbouring pub, The Wild Rabbit. Peter Kindel is the head cheesemaker at our organic Creamery where he and his team produce our award-winning cheeses and Jason Christie runs our Fermentary.

The farmshop front of house team is headed by Freddie Packe and covers all areas including our meat and fish counters, cheese counter, home, garden and the plant nursery. We have a team member dedicated to the zero-waste pantry and we have resident sustainability champions in all our stores.

What sets Daylesford apart from other independent retailers?

The farmshop in the Cotswolds is our flagship and we are proud to be one of the most sustainable farms in the UK. Just footsteps from clover-rich pastures, shoppers do not have to look far to see where our organic animals roam freely and where fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs are picked each morning.

It is the only place to offer so many things under one roof: an organic farmshop, dining areas, bars, garden and homeware areas, floristry and craft workshops, a Cookery School, sustainable clothing, a newly refurbished spa and cottages. Daylesford Organic is a pasture to plate farm where we own the entire process, making the food we produce entirely traceable.

We have a dedicated sustainability team focused on targets such as zero food waste, sourcing responsibly and packaging lightly. When we cannot make something ourselves, we source from farmers and artisans who share our values. We package as lightly as possible and have never given out plastic carrier bags in our farmshops.

What are you most proud of at Daylesford?

At the beginning of this year, Daylesford Organic farm was awarded a Green Michelin Star by the world-renowned restaurant guide. We were thrilled and honoured to receive such a distinction that recognises our high ethical, sustainable and environmental standards.

There are many examples of innovation and progressive farming techniques at Daylesford Organic. The Wilderness Wetland uses grazing cattle and sheep to enhance a wildlife-rich flood meadow habitat. The agroforestry project applies the symbiosis of ranging laying chickens, trees and fertile soil for fruit and vegetables to stock enterprises and the food production of a 30-acre field, which in turn enhances habitats for pollinators and farmland birds.

We also manage the whole story of our table chickens from the parent flock, hatchery, open field and tree-planted ranges into the poultry abattoir and then on to our shops and cafés: this is unique to Daylesford.

We are proud to say that we do not waste a scrap of food and opened our Fermentary at the farm, which makes delicious seasonal ferments using gluts and wonky veg from the Market Garden. We are confident we have reduced and recycled as much energy as feasible.

The farm’s carefully managed woodlands provide the fuel for our café’s oven. We then capture heat above the oven and circulate it through the kitchen’s hot water system. The biomass boiler burns locally sourced wood chips to produce all our heat requirements and our Black Barn production units also harness the wasted heat energy from the back of the refrigeration units (which are powered by solar), to be recycled into hot water.

What challenges have you experienced recently, and how have you overcome them?

Fortunately, our farmshops in the Cotswolds and London stayed open throughout the pandemic thanks to our incredible teams who made sure we were operating according to government guidelines. We had to close certain areas such as our cafés, cottages, Cookery School, floristry and craft workshops and spa – but Daylesford remained a source of nourishing organic food and essential supplies.

We had to split our focus between our bricks-and-mortar locations and look towards our online channels, which really took off in the first lockdown. From March 2020, we prioritised adding hundreds of new products to our website that at the time were in short supply in supermarkets. We added new ranges such as fresh organic fruit and vegetables, veg boxes, larder staples, cleaning products, gardening items and homeware.

We used our social media and newsletter platforms to connect with our customers, and expanded our Daylesford Delivered service to enable more home deliveries for vulnerable people in our community who live nearby to our farmshops both in London and the Cotswolds.

What’s next for Daylesford and the farm shop?

There has been a big new launch at the farmshop recently with the opening of Daylesford Organic Garden, a brand new garden space dedicated to outdoor living. The 30,000 square foot retail space has been constructed with natural materials including timber from silver birch trees felled on the estate and featuring a soil wall built with roots from the Market Garden.

Daylesford Organic Garden includes a plant nursery offering British-grown seasonal flowers, plants, perennials, bulbs, topiary and trees, alongside seeds and crops for kitchen gardens – plus new garden furniture, pots and planters, sustainable peat-free soil and garden tools. Looking ahead, our teams are already busy getting everything ready for Christmas 2021 when we hope the country will really be able to celebrate together.

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    Daylesford’s core sustainability principles include a zero waste pledge, with a commitment to not wasting a scrap of food by composting, reusing and recycling at every opportunity. To further their efforts, Daylesford has partnered with Too Good To Go to help tackle the serious issue of food waste and counter the negative environmental impact associated with the overproduction and wastage of food.
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