Old shop newsletters

LINEN -hardly more expensive than sprayed cotton, very soft, washes well, and fairly traded. Do tell your friends about it, we need to sell lots to keep the printers in work throughout the year in Rajasthan. They do depend on our sales here now as we no longer have Cargo in the market place.

We are concentrating on keeping the 'ready meals' freezer full at the moment. Perfect for people with no time to cook who want to eat organic food without that ready made preservative taste. Mainly veggie and often vegan but a few dishes are creeping in now with meat from the farm.

**Lipstick!? When my husband Will saw the Dr Hauschka range of make-up slip into the skincare section he asked me whether I had forgotten what i was doing here. No, I haven't. It is important that women (or men) who wear lipstick have an alternative to lipsticks which may contain aluminium, lead, ground up lice and their blood (!) barium salts and more horrible sounding things. And eye shadow? And mascara? The research is not happy reading.

**At last, IMSE, real organic terry towelling nappies, slightly shaped and according to one of our customers, 'the best real nappies on the market. They have no Velcro or studs, just very attractive plastic panties. Pity about the plastic but I think it's unavoidable? Comments welcomed as always on how you get on with them.

Also fab looking and very reasonably priced baby clothes in soft, soft organic cotton fairly traded from Gujerat.

Have you noticed?
Wider range of smoked salmon, larger choice of small yoghurts, baby clothes, organic washable nappies, Ecover stain remover, make up, ayurvedic and homeopathic remedies...

As you know we are getting a wider and wider range of products. If you find anything interesting elsewhere that you would like us to stock do let me know - organic of course! Also let me know if you would like to order larger quantities of rice, porridge oats, dried fruit, flour, pulses and muesli. Bex

Abbey Home Farm supplies the shop with all its beef, pork, sausages, ham, gammon, bacon, lamb and eggs. Two beekeepers sell us honey from bees they keep in the middle of the farm. The vegetable garden grows over 200 different varieties annually, 99% of which is sold through the shop.
more than 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our blood stream. There is now even talk of conventional sunscreens being as harmful as the sun itself. We have a wide range of 'natural' products to browse through including Spiezia, Living Nature and Dr. Hauschka.
we have Anne McIntyre, a well known medical herbalist and local author, also specialising in ayurveda, practising here once a month. (see a selection of her books in the book section) Caroline Hockley, a well qualified nutritionalist does very informative 6 week courses here and one to one consultations. Their phone numbers are on the notice board.


Our solar panels have been working well this summer, supplying much of the hot water for the kitchen. Soon we will be lighting the wood burners which provide much of the heat for the cafe, the kitchen water, the office, the loos and the Green Room.
Many people believe that over 60% of what we put on our skin goes into our bloodstream, so we are starting to stock a good choice of natural skincare, shampoos and cosmetics. Do take the information we keep home to read from Green People, Living Nature, Dr. Hauschka and Spiezia, our latest addition by popular customer demand. Very pure ingredient wise, formulated by an Italian doctor who lives in Cornwall.

We don't eat them but did you know that cotton is the most sprayed crop in the world? Encouraging cotton farmers to farm organically by buying their crops helps the environment and the cotton pickers. Watch the clothes area - we hope to increase our range soon.

hardly more expensive than sprayed cotton, very soft...........fairly traded with our own workshop in Rajasthan. What more can we say?

We have just started selling magazines. Do have a look. Any other titles you would like to see? The book selection is growing too. Everything you need to garden organically and then to cook what you have grown.
I might be in danger of repeating myself but please do bear with us when the particular piece of meat on your list is missing from our shelves (again!). As you know, all the meat (apart from the chicken) we sell in the shop is from our own animals. We KNOW how our animals are treated, what they are fed and what has been, or rather not been, put into their bodies. But sometimes nature doesn't give us what we want.........the bacon shortage this summer was solely due to the boar not doing his duty properly last year! He is now being watched by Darren and John more closely!!! And although we do strive to have what you want on the shelves, if we do fail remember you are shopping at a real farm where things don't ALWAYS go exactly to plan.

From this autumn you will be able to buy (for a minimum donation of £1 in the honesty box) good quality paper and hardback books from a bookcase in the café area at the Organic Farm Shop. The Cirencester Amnesty International Group is very grateful to Hilary for this generous donation of space which will help to raise funds for Amnesty's work on human rights. Donations of good quality books are always welcome. Please phone 01285 750466.

One of the great pleasures of working here is the opportunity to enjoy the thriving wildlife at Abbey Home Farm. Next time you visit the Farm Shop, allow yourself time to enjoy the woodland walk or the conservation walk to Ragged Hedge Wood, a particularly beautiful place on a misty morning in the mellow autumn sun. The range of habitats; hedgerows, wider field margins, etc. that link small pockets of woodland are essential for the survival of our native flora and fauna.

For me it came as a huge shock this summer to learn that once common bird species such as the Yellowhammer and the House Sparrow have recently been added to the UK's 'red list' considered to be of highest conservation concern!
Fortunately, these are still regularly seen, around our vegetable gardens along with other rare species such as the Spotted Flycatcher and a delightful summer visit from a pair of nesting Hobbys. Wildlife is not a 'by-product' of pesticide free farming but a fundamental part of the system. Ali

It was interesting to see that the most frequent answer to the question 'How can we encourage you to shop here more often?' on our recent questionnaire was 'move nearer to where I live'. I imagine that was mainly written in jest, but it started me thinking about two things. The first is the question of food miles, the second of connection.

The whole raison d'etre of The Organic Farm Shop is summed up in these two issues. That not only can the food we put in our bodies be fresh, but that adults and children alike can connect to where their food comes from. Which is why that remark has to be in jest. We are here, down a slightly bumpy road, for a reason. Because the chickens are here, the sheep, pigs and cows are here. The vegetable and herbs and flowers and soft fruit grow here, the cooked dishes and cakes are literally made in front of your eyes here.

And so to all of you who want us to move closer to you, don't feel guilty about travelling those few extra miles, think instead of the items in your basket that have never been in a lorry, an aeroplane or a boat.

Of course, we do also sell goods from all over the world as time has proved you want the choice. Our buying policy is simple. In the middle of a circle is Abbey Home Farm. Here we grow or raise as much food as we can, soil type and climate allowing. We then move out from the middle of the circle slowly and with care. First to the local area, then the neighbouring counties, across the rest of the U.K. and then on, still carefully, across the channel to Europe, then out into the wider world when necessary.

And what one may ask, does 'necessary' mean? Bananas and coffee, or mangos and French beans? Here I bow out of the discussion gracefully, my only desire being to see our farm succeed in offering a wide variety of fresh organic reasonably priced food to the local community in as sustainable way as possible.

And so it was the other day that I ignored the golden rule of the shopkeeper and told a customer that I didn't think she was right wanting me to stock South American apples when French apples are easily available. "I don't buy French," she said, "the French are awful, they never have anything English in their shops" I could not understand her logic. France is more fortunate in having a far longer season than us. That is why we buy French. Any one who worries about the 'traffic of globalization' would surely not choose to bring apples all the way from South America when there are still delicious apples just over the channel? We sparred heatedly, and then laughingly agreed to disagree. She went out with a bag of French apples. I went back into shopkeeper mode.

Here's to us all with our different ideas and views and foibles, united in our desire for chemical free food.
Keep shopping, we do enjoy meeting you.


P.S. I thought I was going to write about the new shop and café. So just a brief note. Eleven months on and the builders are nearly finished. We loved the little shop but this is very much easier to work in. Thank you for all your encouragement, compliments and patience in the noisy times. I don't think it needs to get any bigger now...

Organic babies
It's so exciting to see a new generation of organic babies visiting the shop. Here are a couple of them and a very touching story behind one of them. Welcome to all our new organic babies!

Matthew Alasdair Woods 13/11/02 10lbs. 2½ oz

Born to Sarah and Michael Woods

Edward Walker 7½ lbs.

After trying to conceive a baby for 4 years, I was advised by my doctor to eat as much organic food as possible so thank you to The Organic Farm Shop. After eating only organic for 6 months I conceived baby Edward.

Edwards Mum

I just wanted to thank all at the Organic Farm Shop for curing my headache - figuratively speaking, that is! As a natural nutritional therapist, who believes in healing through food and not supplements, I always find myself trying to steer people away from convenience foods and, therefore, I have to spend a lot of time looking for, and recommending, different sources of natural, organically produced alternatives. Not an easy task - I've even resorted to recommending mail order organic vegetables from Norfolk. It's no wonder that my clients couldn't/wouldn't stick to their new diets! Was there any way to make shopping for things as diverse as linseeds, organic skin care products, spelt wheat and organic, locally produced vegetables, easy and pleasant? Well, yes - I've found it. I now simply direct them to The Organic Farm Shop and let them browse. The staff are always friendly and able to answer any questions about the produce.
So a big thanks you for taking away my biggest headache and inspiring my clients to continue!


We are always on the look out for more interesting and varied products to add to our range in the shop and much of my time is spend sourcing products that are organic and good and that we think you will enjoy. Recent additions include bagels, more crisp flavours and chocolate covered nuts! However, we are always interested in stocking more of your favourite organic products that we may not be aware of so please don't hesitate to ask me.

Bulk orders are also taken for most dry goods and attract favourable discounts. Please contact me with any request.


We have established our own 15 acre organic market garden which surrounds the shop. Our stocks are supplemented by other organic growers to offer a good range of organic fruit and vegetables at all times. Seasonal produce is our priority.

We find shopping at The Organic Farm Shop to be not only good for our health, but good for our bank account as well. In our first shop at The Organic Farm Shop, we spent about £30 less than we normally would buying organic food at Waitrose. The food from The Organic Farm Shop is also of a much higher quality - I've never seen or tasted celery as nice as yours!

It's wonderful to be able to buy fresh, wholesome, delicious food at reasonable prices. With the produce from The Organic Farm Shop we can be more in tune with the Earth and the seasons, and play a more active role in the promotion of organic growing and lifestyles, things about which we feel strongly.

We also find it very reassuring to know and see where most of our food comes from and we feel secure in the knowledge that we are giving our baby son the best food we can.

Many thanks to all at The Organic Farm Shop, and we look forward to more lovely food!

Kira and Martin, Cirencester

*The reason so many of you haven't found eggs to buy for the last few months is because the hens lay so slowly in the winter. Get more hens you say. Then we have too many in the summer. But we have just welcomed 200 more Black Rocks onto the farm and soon they will be earning their living happily, we hope!

*The wood burner in the café is hopefully a welcoming glow in the winter, but it is also heating the hot water for the kitchen and radiators in our store room, the two loos and the office. All the wood we burn is from the farms own managed woods. Thank you Will and Rob!

*The Green Room will also have a wood burner which will heat eleven radiators. In our efforts to reduce the amount of oil and gas used here, we have invested in solar panels on the roof of the shop to heat the water in the kitchen in the summertime. We have also put the wires ready for solar electric when the budget allows... ... ...

2002 news
There is a lot of talk in environmental circles at the moment about germs, or rather the sad lack of them in the average household. So I don’t want to go down the ‘there is a new religion and hygiene is one of its gods’ (Bernard Shaw) path. But we are going to try out some different household products in the next few months. All environmentally friendly and recommended by customers (thank you Linda) or others retailers. As you know we have very little space, so there wont be an army of washing powders, cleaners etc. but if you try something other than Ecover do let us know what you thought of it and whether you would buy it again.
Also beauty products. I bought an ayurvedic range of hair, face and body products on my last trip to India. The soaps have been selling well in Cargo for quite a while. Do let me know if you are enjoying any of them in particular. And do you have a favourite make yourself?

Fish – we realize that this is the trickiest area for us and many of our customers. The only organically certified fish is farmed and we know there is a lot of opposition to fish farming Suffice it to say adhering to Soil Association fish farming standards do mean the stocking rates are very low and the feed has no additives and colourings. Sadly our local organic trout farm is no longer trading so we are looking further a field, but for small quantities chilled deliveries are often prohibitively expensive. However we hope soon to have a small selection of fish for you to buy.

I like to start the newsletter with a few words about what a great few months we have had and how well the shop has been doing, but as all our regular and oh so loyal customers know only too well the past four months have not been so wonderful. Christmas at the shop WAS great and so was the beginning of 2001 (the people who doubted that anyone would venture up the drive in the winter have been proved wonderfully wrong) but in February the countryside went into crisis and the rest, as they say, is history. Dreadful history. Relatively we have been very lucky. Difficult though it was to move into town and then back again within 2 and a half months, compared to the plight of so many small businesses in the countryside we suffered very little, and one very positive thing has come out of it all. That we are in the right place here on the farm, with the vegetables and the animals all around us. Contrary to expectation, a shop in town is not a financially viable proposition. And also contrary to many people’s expectations, here on the farm IS.

Which brings me on to the good news. Part of me would like to spend the rest of the page shouting about the mishandling of the whole affair, and the rest of the newsletter considering the more than slightly worrying quotation which begins Teddy Goldsmith’s introduction to the very pertinent Ecologist Report 2001* that “Itis increasingly difficult for small food producers and retailers of any kind to survive, let alone thrive, within the context of a global economy committed to the maximization of trade and development.” But I shall leave you to read what is actually going on in the magazines we have in the café!

The good news. The Independent on Saturday gave us a fantastic colour picture and write up headed ‘Small is Beautiful’ helping even locals to find us for the first time. This week we are celebrating our 2ndbirthday at ‘home’ where the staff and the customers are happiest.!! The best months of the year are ahead as we see the garden blossom and we cook and sell her abundant fruits………. tell your friends and neighbours about us because we do need to thrive, not just survive, in this world of multinational control over what we produce and eat. Hilary

Large Family?

If you would like to save some money and order staples in bulk, e.g., rice, oats, sugar, pulses, oil, washing liquids, etc., ask for prices and ordering details. Obviously the larger the amount the more you save, but even on 3kg instead of 500g there is a small saving. Juice, wines, cider and beer discounts are available if you order by the case. Please ask for a price list.


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