Local farm shops are reaping the benefits of a good summer season and are on hand to see us through the challenging winter months.
‘Tis the season for winter veg and once we’ve maxed out our Christmas leftovers it will be time to head down to the shops to stock up on some more. But have you considered buying your veg locally?
Farms across Scotland are still growing food in abundance at this time of year, and many farm shops remain well stocked with some of our festive favourites – who said Brussels sprouts just had to be confined to Christmas?
Fiona Smith, who runs Westerton Farmers and the Spud Hut in Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire, says there is so much veg to choose from at the minute and that local farm shops will be well stocked over the next few weeks following a good growing season in the summer.
She says: “We’ve got a little shop on our farm. Westerton Farmers is the name of the business and our shop is called The Spud Hut.
“Homegrown-wise just now we’ve got kale. We’ve had loads of people asking us about lettuce, probably for their prawn cocktail starters for their Christmas, and people not managing to get it.
“Kale would be quite a good alternative – it’s not quite as sweet as lettuce but you’d be able to put a dressing on it to give the greeny crunch as an alternative in something like a prawn salad or prawn cocktail. Dress the kale a little while before you eat it, it does almost the opposite of lettuce and just softens it a little bit.
“You get green and purple kale in Scotland, and we’ve got them growing here. We’ve also got some good old Brussels sprouts, which we grow and sell on the stalk – we’re actually going to sell out of those today but will buy in from another producer nearby because we’ve been cleaned out.”
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Traditionally turned to during winter time in Scotland, root vegetables are also available in farm shops near you.
Fiona says: “There are also root vegetables in abundance right now such as carrots and parsnips. There’s also beetroot, though despite it storing and growing really well in this country, it doesn’t particularly like the frost, so it may not be fresh out the ground but it is grown locally.
“Neeps (swedes are the official name but everyone knows them as neeps) are also around. Cabbage is another really good one – it stays on the ground fine and doesn’t mind the frost or the snow.
“We’ve still got small quantities of rainbow shard in our veg patch. Rainbow shard is like a mixture of lettuce and spinach. You can wilt it down to have in stir-fries, as a side, or even eaten raw. The leaves are green but the main shoot of it you get in different colours – we’ve got yellow, red, white and green.
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“We also still have stored, some squashes from our pumpkin weekend. Broccoli would be another one, though that’s UK produce, so might be slightly further afield that it’s grown though you’ll still be able to get buy it in farm shops.
“Also, the humble spud will see us through. It’s an absolutely key Scottish produce and we are in prime tattie land here in Aberdeenshire – the ground is just great for growing tatties. There are a lot of really good-quality potato growers in Scotland too.”
Following a great summer of growing, local farm shops are well stocked for the winter and will have plenty of your favourites available to buy for when you need them.
Fiona added: “There is a good network amongst the farm shops and we’re all very well in to helping each other out. For example we grow tatties on a commercial basis so we’ve got quite a lot of potatoes.
“So if anyone is going to see us through, it’s going to be these small local growers.
“It was a good growing summer, which means there are a lot of weeds. We don’t spray chemicals on our vegetable patches so there are some interesting shapes but that’s all part of it and I think wonky veg is going to be another thing we are going to have to promote because we have some funny-shaped carrots and neeps but they taste equally as delicious.
“We landed very lucky with the weather this year and, as a general rule, if you’re growing veg on quite a big scale then you have storage on the farm. So that’s always a bonus and means there’s plenty to go round.”
Local farm shops near you
There are plenty of local farm shops across the north and north-east, but be sure to check their opening times over the festive period before planning your visit.
Westerton Farmers and The Spud Hut (Laurencekirk)
A family-run farm near Laurencekirk, Westerton Farmers grow veg all year round, a full list of which can be seen on their website here. Their shop The Spud Hut is a shed based on the farm and is filled with an array of homegrown veg for you to enjoy. Take a look at their Facebook page here for their festive opening hours.
Carnoustie Farm Shop (Angus)
Think of a vegetable, any vegetable at all and it’s almost guaranteed that Carnoustie Farm Shop will have it or at least be able to source it for you. With an abundance of veggies on their website, you can visit the shop or order a veg box if you live within the local area.
Grewar’s Farm Shop (Dundee)
Based at Donley Farm just outside Dundee, Grewar’s showcase many local products in its farm shop, from gins to cheeses to their own grown veg and even things like eggs and condiments. If you’re looking for something that requires a bit less effort on your part, they also have some ready-cooked meals for sale using locally-sourced ingredients. For more information, take a look at their website here.
Ardross Farm Shop (Fife)
Based in St Monans in Fife’s East Neuk, award-winning Ardross Farm Shop is a popular place for all things local, most especially vegetables which are “so fresh even the cabbages squeak” according to their website. The shop is often busy so it is best to plan ahead and check their opening hours on their Facebook page.
Broadslap Fruit Farm (Perth)
A family-run fruit farm during the summer, Broadslap also has many winter vegetables for sale throughout the season, as well as other locally-sourced produce. If you enjoy the farm’s berries in the summer then you’re bound to appreciate their offerings during the later months. Take a look at their website here for more info and opening hours.