We have always placed a great emphasis on local suppliers and helping local businesses, from our Sunday Market to the local beers we sell in the bar.
Food and drink is central to our businesses, and we’ve been thinking about how to have the most control over our supplies and started to think about growing and rearing our own. So early in 2018 we purchased 5 acres of land near Backwell, 6 miles south of Bristol, and are now well under way in establishing our farm – appropriately named ‘Five Acre Farm’.
Jonathan – formerly the Café Bar Manager – has been enthusiastically growing his own vegetables on his allotment for some years, and was the perfect person from our team to take on management of the farm.
Our first crops are beginning to come through, and our livestock are starting to take up residence on the farm, with chickens of numerous breeds – from Speckled to Light Sussex – and Gloucester Old Spot pigs already settled in. And we’ll be producing our own honey straight from our beehives.
Our vegetable range will be extensive and we can select varieties which are better for you and which are unsuitable for large scale farming. These will include tomatoes with the greatest amount of the lycopene nutrient, white beetroot, blue radish, purple cauliflower, asparagus, and carrots with a high amount of purple anthocyanins, and yes – they’re purple!
We will be growing and rearing with organic principles to make the best use of nature. The farm will also be as sustainable as possible, making use of the spent grain from sister company Bristol Beer Factory to help feed our pigs.
Keeping the local emphasis for the farm we will employ people from the local area, helping to keep employment within the small towns and village.
We will have several open days for people to come and visit the farm, to see and taste our produce and to meet our animals.
Jonathan Boundy – Farm Manager
As a teenager I enjoyed Gardeners World – although I didn’t do a lot of gardening. But then in 2005, before it was trendy, I decided to get an allotment. I remember pulling up my first leeks and the smell was nothing like you get from a leek in a supermarket.
The leeks were just a start, I discovered so many different types of vegetables – from yellow courgettes and purple potatoes to tomatoes – from white to very dark purple. I was well and truly hooked when it comes to growing veg, and I’ve not stopped growing since.
In 2016, having moved to my new allotment site in Ashton Vale, I installed a 25 foot polytunnel. I was amazed at how much I could grow, so many tomatoes and peppers, I just didn’t know what to do with them all so I was handing them to everyone, including many staff at the Tobacco Factory, where I managed the Café Bar, including the owner George, and Venue Manager Sarah. And that’s where the idea was sown for the Tobacco Factory and Grain Barge to have its own farm.
Things moved fast, and an ideal site was purchased within a month of the discussion, in early 2018. Since then there’s been great excitement and a lot of digging as we get this new venture up together. This is an exciting new adventure for me, and I’m going to learn a lot – and so I hope will the customers. We will be inviting people to come and visit the farm to sample the produce and learn about how and why we grow our food, to grow seasonally with organic principles and with freshness you can’t beat.
It will take two to three years to get fully up and running, for the blueberry bushes and the apple tress to establish themselves but in the meantime there will be plenty of vegetables as well as meat, eggs and honey from the farm for us all to enjoy.