I feel incredibly lucky to have grown up here in such a beautiful part of the world. Those thoughts grow stronger the older I get, and especially now that I have children of my own. Much has changed over the years, particularly in our industry, and I feel a sense of responsibility to keep our farm sustainable and thriving for future generations. Every British farmer has a different set of challenges to face, whether it’s location, topography, market conditions or even family circumstance: it’s our responsibility to identify our own opportunities and do our best with them.
I remember as a child hearing stories about my great grandfather and the close links between the village and farm. In those days, food and drink was produced and sold locally, the village pub brewed its own beer and the residents of the village ate and drank produce from farms local to them. I like to feel that perhaps we are returning to these times. We love being able to offer a place to come and discover something new and interesting. Whether that’s a school trip or open day around the farm, a cookery course or even a new dish on the menu. We feel that our farm and farm shop have much to offer in this way and we’re excited by the opportunities to continue to strengthen this. We feel very proud to be part of the fabric of our communities and see our main focus is to listening to our customers, working hard to improve what we do every day and with that make us an enjoyable place to visit.
I always wanted to return back to the family farm at some stage. After university my father, Richard and I had many discussions about the farm and its future and I often talked about my passion for food and farming. I grew up spending nearly all my spare time working on the farm, and loved exploring food markets crammed with exciting ingredients whenever we went on holiday. I had spent a lot of time at farmer’s markets and loved visiting great food shops and restaurants – they always were, and continue to be a great inspiration to me. From there came the idea of doing something ourselves, redirecting our farm’s future to supply a farm shop. We are very proud to have reinvented our farming business and been able to grow our native breed beef herd as well as offering a fair and sustainable market for other local farmers through our farm shops and kitchens. Hartley Farm is now also home to a community of young, vibrant food artisan businesses growing everything from the tastiest fruit and vegetables to baking the most delicious sourdough bread.
When the opportunity came to grow, we felt passionately that it was an opportunity to try to develop our core purpose & values as a business in a new community. Our new farm shop & kitchen at Neston, near Atworth in Wiltshire, has allowed us to grow our business and provide exciting opportunities for our excellent team, and other local producers too. We are really enjoying meeting and making new friends & partnerships and developing new ideas to use across our business. It’s an exciting time for our business and for the local food industry, as interests and concerns about food, health, wellbeing and education are coming into sharp focus. Our plan is to stay at the forefront of this and continue to grow with our community, offering as many opportunities as we can. We plan to continue to develop our farm and its produce to supply our farm shop & kitchens with fresh and exciting food, as well as creating great experiences too in order to make a visit always exciting and inspiring!
Tom Bowles, 5th Generation Farmer and Owner