Bruern farm diversifies

Bruern farm is set to open a new café as part of its commitment to the community. The farm opened a shop last summer, selling local produce from both the farm and local businesses. Henry Astor, one of the farm owners, said that the reception to the farm shop has been very positive, giving them the drive to open up a café next door.

The café will be dog-friendly, situated in a field of sunflowers, and serve food made from local produce. “We are all about local, so if it’s not from our farm than it has to be from a business no more than 30 miles away. It’s not just about selling produce; it’s also about supporting neighbouring businesses,” Henry said.

The third-generation family farm also has plans to set up initiatives including bread-making workshops and open-air concerts for local people. “We’re trying to find ways to involve the local community in what is going on at the farm. It’s aimed at serving predominantly the local community, unlike say Diddly Squat that is serving tourists,” said Henry. 

The family has ambitious plans for the coming year: converting a grain dryer into studio workshops, silos into work and living spaces, milling their own flour to sell to local bakers, launching their own beer in collaboration with Chadlington Brewery and building shepherd huts. They also have plans to increase engagement by working with Chippy Larder to help people grow their own veg.

Commenting on how the pandemic has affected their trading, Henry said it has actually worked in their favour; “It really helped as people needed to get out of the house so our shop became a destination place for locals.” 

The push for diversification is common among farms in the UK, following the uncertainty that Brexit brought. “These are very uncertain times in farming and much depends on government policy going forward,” said Henry.

Alice Williamson

April – May 2022