FAIRFIELD Farm College’s farm shop and cafe is to extend its opening hours with a Saturday opening, having enjoyed the success of the first few months.
Housed in an innovative purpose-built construction at the front of the college, the farm shop and cafe opened in October. The cafe offers a spacious, family-friendly area, serving up food from freshly brewed coffee and homemade cakes to jacket potatoes, sandwiches, hot paninis, and salads. The shop stocks fresh fruit and vegetables and other groceries, a delicatessen counter, garden furniture, plants, and eco-friendly cleaning products.
The vision of the project has been to create an ecologically friendly and innovative new facility including the cafe, extended shop, and additional facilities to the community, as well as enhancing the teaching facility for the college, which has around 40 students with learning disabilities.
Andy Down of the college explained, “We’ve had a lot of interest around the village. The specialist diet areas such as the gluten-free and vegetarian products are doing particularly well both in the shop and cafe – we seem to be quite unique in the area for that kind of thing. Hot paninis have been going down very well in the cafe, and we’re now selling the cakes in the cafe as whole cakes in the shop.”
Students have been manning the cafe and shop under the supervision of their tutors, getting involved in everything from making and preparing food and using the till system, to the basic pricing of goods and stock control. Andy said, “The students are loving it! I see some of them come in, not very confident, and they go away after a couple of sessions glowing with pride in what they’ve achieved in a short space of time.
“The whole point of the enterprise is for students to be trained with real-life experience, so that when they leave the college they are ready to work in a similar environment. While all parts of the college prepare students for life in the community, the main difference with the new facilities is that students will be working directly with the public.”
Not only is the shop and cafe extending its opening hours, but it also has plenty more developments in the pipeline. It is currently developing its own brand of products made on site, and a garden centre is due to open at the end of March.
• Fairfield Farm College is located along the High Street in Dilton Marsh, BA13 4DL. The shop and cafe is open 8.45am-4.30pm, Monday to Friday during term-time. From the 11th February, it will also be open from 10am-4.30pm on Saturdays.
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