Butcher brings new flavour to Norwich fruit farm’s retail offering
- Credit: Steve Adams
A Norwich fruit grower is aiming to beef up its year-round retail appeal by adding a butcher's counter to its café and farm shop diversification.
White House Farm, off Blue Boar Lane in Sprowston, is a pick-your-own enterprise run by former Royal Marine Oliver Gurney and his wife Charlotte.
Since taking over the family farm two years ago, the couple has modernised the soft fruit production business, and created a café and farm shop in an old cart shed last year.
Now, in an effort to expand the farm's viability beyond the summer fruit-picking season, a butcher has been recruited in a bid to attract a new clientele and underpin a year-round food appeal.
Mrs Gurney said: 'We use commercial growing techniques to get the best possible yields, but the fruit is still a six-month business, and there is not that much money in it. Hence the need to diversify.
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'I have watched what other farm shops are doing, not necessarily in Norfolk, and having spoken to many of these people they say meat adds an enormous amount of footfall and a different type of customer
'We are an authentic working farm, and we are growing a great percentage of the things we sell. We have fresh fruit and vegetables here, so we thought: Why not have fresh meat as well?'
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Local sourcing is a priority for the butchery business, with beef and lamb bought via HG Blake abattoir in Costessey, while the high-welfare pork comes from Blythburgh near Southwold, and the free range chickens are from Diss.
'The first cow we had here came with a passport that said NR13 on it,' said Mrs Gurney. 'It had never left the NR13 postcode, and considering we are NR13 too, that made me very happy.'
Butcher Steve Taylor from Aylsham, who previously worked at Groveland Farm Shop in Roughton, said he viewed the nearby housing developments on the fringes of the city as an opportunity, despite the proximity of the large Tesco supermarket on Blue Boar Lane.
'They are all potential customers, and hopefully they won't all be supermarket customers,' he said. 'If we want to compete, we have just got to be better than them – it has got to be about quality.'
The renovated cafe, farm shop and new butcher will open together for the first time today. White House Farm also plans more Saturday farmers' markets this year, starting on June 27, and it will host a pizza evening on June 18 from 4.30pm-7.30pm.