Hundreds drop in on new produce shop after Peterborough farming family secures grant

Harvest Barn owner Lynn Briggs and Ashley Holland, assistant manager, in the new farm shop.
Harvest Barn owner Lynn Briggs and Ashley Holland, assistant manager, in the new farm shop.
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Hundreds of customers have been pouring in to a new farm shop and cafe opened by a farming family in Peterborough.

The Harvest Barn farm shop and cafe at Whitehall Farm, in Ramsey Road, near Farcet, has attracted some 200 customers each weekend since opening nine weeks ago.

Harvest Barn owner Lynn Briggs and Ashley Holland, assistant manager.

Harvest Barn owner Lynn Briggs and Ashley Holland, assistant manager.

And the venture, which took three years to bring to fruition, is to be followed by the construction of an educational centre this sumer.

The project was made possible after the farm, which has been run by the Briggs family for a decade, secured a £41,000 LEADER grant.

Harvest Barn stocks a variety of locally grown and sourced products, including Whitehall Farm’s own apple juice and oats. The café serves a selection of sweet and savoury treats.

Lynn Briggs, owner of Harvest Barn, said: “We had been planning to open a shop for three years but financing was always a barrier.

"Without support from the LEADER programme I don’t know how we’d have got this off the ground.

"It’s been a dream to sell direct to customers. The soils here create fantastic produce – why would we want to give that to someone else?

"We’ve also got a great location near a busy road so it’s a perfect pit stop for anyone travelling.

"Having this farm shop means we can give back to our community not just with our produce but through nurturing the curiosity of our visitors and sharing our knowledge and love of farming with students, young children and agriculture and environmental enthusiasts.”

Mrs Briggs said: "We want to inspire an interest in farming amongst school children and the shop’s visitors, alongside supporting older students of agriculture and environmental sciences.

"With that in mind the second phase of the grant will also help fund an educational centre, which is expected to open in the summer, and help provide farm access so visitors can see the produce growing in the fields and meet some of the farm animals.

Steve Bowyer, chief executive of the city's economic development company Opportunity Peterborough, said, “This is a clear cut example of just how big a role LEADER funding can play in supporting the rural economy, and it’s a brilliant testament to the hard work of the Briggs family and their team that Harvest Barn has achieved such quick success.

"With less than a year to go until LEADER funding closes, it’s crucial that businesses and community groups across rural Peterborough and Rutland get in touch so we can make use of the remaining £800,000 that’s still available.”