UK Enterprise Awards 2021

326 | UK Enterprise Awards 2021 Jun21474 Farm Shop of the Year - Gwent With the benefits of organic food becoming more apparent, many people are moving to a more natural and sustainable way of living. This is great news for farmers and small producers, such as Square Farm Shop, who hope to continue to educate the masses on just why their methods are better than those of mainstream producers. We speak to Ryan Whittall to find out more about this niche, yet growing, industry. Square Farm Shop is a family- run business focusing strongly on traditional farming methods around cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese and Vegetables. The business also incorporates a flourishing farm shop selling home-grown, organically produced foods as well as an expanding range of selected local produce from the Wye Valley and surrounding areas. Cereals and root crops are grown for animal feed and an increasing number of vegetable crops are produced to stock the farm shop. The shop also sells Square Farm’s traditionally reared beef, lamb, and pork, alongside the very popular eggs from the flock of 200 unrestricted, free-ranging poultry. With an emphasis on sustainability, the farm shop operates a plastic-free environment wherever possible, so its range of produce is largely sold on a ‘refill’ basis, meaning customers can take their own containers and help to rid the world of single- use plastics. The family farming business was built from scratch by Mr and Mrs EH and KV Whittall and has been established at Square Farm since 1978. Today, it is owned and run by their son, Robert, and also provides a home for Mrs Whittall in her retirement. “Our product is organic and farmed using traditional methods which you cannot get in the mainstream supermarkets or even the local butchers,” explains Ryan, a third generation farmer of the Whittall family, on the business’ unique selling points. “We have often struggled to get customers to understand the difference between our way of farming and the more mainstream way of farming, but more recently we have established a really good following, with customers who see the quality of what we produce compared to others.” So successful has Square Farm become in recent years, that the Whittall family is currently seeking planning permission to build a larger, purpose- built farm shop in order to further expand the business to be able to offer an even better range to customers. Despite lockdown being detrimental to industries the world over, there’s no doubt that it has had its advantages when it comes to the farming sector, and Ryan tells us more about the trends he has seen over the last 12 months. “People are thinking about their food more and where it comes from,” he states. “We think people are thinking about being healthier so that their bodies have better immunity and are more likely to fight things off, such as Covid. Everything we do is organic and natural, therefore it is healthier for you and so people are coming to us as a lifestyle change.” Recently, Square Farm has had lots of new customers who have expressed an interest in the differences between the traditional farming methods employed by Ryan and the team, and mainstream producers. After researching what Square Farm does and how it is beneficial, they have subsequently gone on to become very loyal customers. “As a small farm shop the team is made up of mainly family and friends and our staff really get to know the customers. During lockdown, we worked around the clock to supply local people with local food and products which was very difficult with the space we had available.” With a commitment to traditional farming, sustainability, and excellent customer service, it is no wonder that the farm shop was recently crowned Farm Shop of the Year – Gwent. With regards to the future, it appears that Square Farm Shop is only going to get bigger and better. “We want to be able to have our own fresh meat counter with a butcher, giving customers much more flexibility when buying our meat. We are also trying to fill the gap in the absence of a village shop so we are working towards a larger and better range of products too.” Contact: Ryan Whittall Web Address: