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. We’re supplying tatties along to Castleton Farm Shop at the moment so they’re not going to run out and neither are we as we know we’ve got a really good supply.
“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.
What’s For Tea Tonight? (Laurencekirk)
With more than just veggies available, What’s For Tea Tonight? in Laurencekirk also offers up things like cheese, steak pies and eggs and caters for all sorts of diets so you can be sure everyone in your family will find something they like. The shop is currently operating a one-in-one-out policy to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Castleton Farm Shop (Laurencekirk)
Also in Laurencekirk is Castleton Farm, which is still taking orders for their popular veg boxes up to the end of the month. Showcasing much of the local area’s homegrown produce, Castleton Farm has plenty of winter veg and other home cooking favourites to see you through the winter months.
Robertson’s The Larder (Beauly)
From black pudding to vegetables and gifts, Robertson’s in Beauly has a range of winter vegetables that can be found on its website here. Social distancing guidelines are in place when browsing the shop, or food can be ordered via click and collect. Take a look at their website for more details and opening hours.
Finzean Estate (Banchory)
Established in 2006, the farm shop on the Finzean Estate prides itself on selling a wide range of food from local producers, including a huge selection of vegetables. They also have a few Christmas hampers left over which can be ordered via phone (01330 850 710) or by emailing email@example.com. Be sure to check their opening hours over the Christmas period on their website.
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.