10 reasons to visit this sustainable, family-owned farm shop in St Albans
- Credit: Smallford Farm Shop and Café
There's no need to look further afield for quality produce – there are aromatic cheeses, fresh vegetables and fine wines available on your doorstep.
Smallford Farm Shop and Café in St Albans is a family-owned, fresh produce nursery, providing customers with a variety of delicious local delicacies. Businesses partners (as well as auntie and niece), Emma Colletti and Virginia Maniscalco, share 10 reasons to visit their artisan food and drink shop:
A range of fresh salad is grown on site, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, aubergines and chillies. The produce is picked daily with much of it being used in the café kitchen to cook up culinary delights such as their very own tomato pasta sauce and the café's signature dish, ravioli stuffed with aubergines (Ravioli alla Norma).
The farm shop and café also ensure they use minimal plastic and source anything they can’t grow themselves from local suppliers. They also make their own homemade focaccia using their own tomatoes.
2) Supporting local businesses
By visiting the farm shop and café you will be supporting other nearby businesses, helping the St Albans area and economy. Quality products sourced locally include handmade soaps from Harpenden, Potters Crouch candles, diffusers and wax melts from St Albans, flowers from a local florist, fresh bread from the local bakery in Markyate, which delivers daily, and a range of drinks from local distillers and breweries.
3) The butcher’s counter
Smallford has its very own on-site butcher from Thursday to Sunday, although pre-packed meat is available the rest of the week. You can choose from a wide range of mostly locally sourced produce, including seasonal lamb, summer barbecue meats, or any bespoke meat you would like to order, including rabbit, organic chicken, lamb burgers and turkeys for Christmas. For any specific requirements, the team are always available to help and offer advice.
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4) Artisan wines and beers
Smallford has a wide selection of wines and beers, many originating from the local area. "We like to keep things fresh, and are always on the lookout for new and exciting suppliers," says Emma.
The shop currently offers gins from Copper in the Clouds, Bunkum Rum from St Albans, and beers from Tring Brewery and Mad Squirrel. Other fantastic independent suppliers include Beeble British Honey Whiskey, Home Farm Gin and Tom Savano Cocktails. They also sell a number of Italian, organic, sulphite-free wines, and serve them in the café as their special house range. There is a hand-picked wine list on offer in the shop which includes British sparkling wine from Fairmile in Henley-on-Thames.
5) Unique, high-quality products
Unlike bigger chain stores, Smallford carefully chooses artisan products with a focus on the local element. As a family-run business, Emma and Virginia spend time visiting different shows to taste everything and select by hand, before they decide to buy. “We want to make sure that what we offer our customers is the highest quality and we make sure our staff are knowledgeable too,” says Emma.
6) The perfect brunch spot
The café is spacious whilst parking is free and easy, making it an ideal place for brunch after the school run. The food is all fresh and homegrown, even the Scotch eggs are made from the butcher's meat using local duck eggs. The full English breakfast is all sourced locally, not mass produced.
7) Great for gifts and homewares
The shop sells handmade salad bowls from Italian company Guzzini, alongside fine British glassware, citronella candles, vases, cards and children’s gifts. There are also vegan homemade bath bombs on display as well as bespoke hampers, art from local artists on the walls and much more.
8) Takeaway meal boxes
You can take home convenient, healthy and fresh food with Smallford’s great takeaway boxes. "There’s truly something for anyone, whether its carbonara made with butcher’s bacon, homemade burger and chips, vegetarian bake, or paella in bag – everything's easy to take away and cook at home," says Emma.
You can also pre-order British charcuterie and cheese boards for special occasions as well as afternoon teas.
9) Fantastic tasting events
Smallford Farm Shop hosts pop-up events throughout the year from independent suppliers. Previously they've hosted a paella tasting event, Asian and Thai food events as well as pop-ups from many other local suppliers. Follow their Facebook and Instagram accounts for upcoming events.
10) A one-stop shop
Customers can come in for lunch, buy their dinner to take home and even pick up a gift or two for upcoming birthdays. Everything is conveniently under one roof, so there's no need to travel further afield.
Head over to Smallford Farm Shop, Hatfield Rd, Smallford, St Albans to explore what's on offer.
For more information, call 01727 747340 or visit smallfordfarmshop.com.