James and Catherine Dampier have been running Village Greens Farm Shop in Ockley, Surrey since 2007. From the outset, this determined couple set out to support local suppliers: buying meat from welfare farms, growing their own produce and employing local people. They were also determined to only select and sell food that really delivered on taste.
Now, with an additional farm shop on the Denbies Wine Estate and a young family, James and Catherine have had to work incredibly hard to make their dream a reality; underpinned by a determination to stick to their strict self-imposed set of criteria.
Their first shop in Ockley, near Dorking, continues to delight local customers by the friendliness of the service, the excellent local produce and the impressive array of new and never seen before products. As an example, Dineke van den Bogerd of Crumbs of Capel – an artisan baker of sourdough bread – got her first break with Village Greens and now supplies two other farm shops in Surrey.
Three years ago James and Catherine opened their second shop at Denbies. The owners let them have use of their walled vegetable garden, and a large greenhouse provides space for starting off seedlings for the sister site in Ockley.
James and Catherine have thus joined a growing band of smallholders who produce stock for their own retail outlets, with salad leaves, green beans, courgettes, kale, and other vegetables now grown just across the road from the shop. Village Greens also run a vegetable bag scheme for pick up or local delivery. To supplement their own produce, they also buy from other local producers, such as Secrets and Nutbourne.
Before buying meat or poultry, the couple meet suppliers and check production methods are in keeping with their ethos that all should be raised and slaughtered humanely.
The majority of products come from within 30 miles of the shop; with 18 suppliers based within ten miles, who supply a diverse range of products including beef, lamb, chicken, sausages, wine, bread, milk and chocolates.
There is a great selection of local cheeses on offer including Norbury Park Farm’s Norbury Blue and Dirty Vicar. From further afield comes Sussex Charmer and a selection from the High Weald Organic Dairy in West Sussex, plus charcuterie produced at the Weald Smokery in East Sussex.
Coffee, of course, is imported, but is supplied by Coffee Real; a locally-based ethical coffee business. Coffee Real, as many customers have found, is the perfect accompaniment to a box of Goupie!
Village Greens is also well known for its Food Fairs: Farmers’ Market style events where the best local producers can showcase their produce … and offer tasters!
All in all Village Greens is the very model of a modern farm shop: ethically-run, staffed by a knowledgable and friendly team, and never failing to offer an extensive range of fresh, tasty produce with proven provenance. Who could ask for more?
T: 01306 880720
Additional photography from
www.dorkingandleatherheadadvertiser.co.uk and www.visitsurrey.com