Kingfisher Farm Shop in Abinger Hammer has been a hub of local produce since 1854

PUBLISHED: 16:05 10 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:10 10 July 2020

Barry Arminson and daughter Marion - Photo Chloe Hardwick

Barry Arminson and daughter Marion - Photo Chloe Hardwick

Chloe Hardwick

Best-known for delicious and nutritious watercress, Kingfisher Farm Shop in Abinger Hammer has a rich heritage as an essential community hub of locally-produced food and drink | With Local Food Britain founder Tracy Carroll

Originally published in the May 2020 issue

Farmers, growers and independent food and drink producers have been among the unsung heroes during the recent crisis, working dawn to dusk and through the night to keep Surrey ticking and well fed.

Destinations such as Kingfisher Farm Shop, in Abinger Hammer, act as community hubs for residents and small businesses alike during the good times, but they (and many other farm shops) have also put in monumental efforts in recent weeks to keep shelves stocked with fresh produce and veg boxes going out to those most in need.

With Watercress Week taking place in May, originally, this column was going to be a celebration of Kingfisher Farm Shop’s humble superfood. The farm is one of the few remaining producers of it in the area.

But perhaps we should all celebrate watercress for the wonderful ingredient it is anyway. The leaves will be in abundance this month and they add intrigue and interest to most dishes, packed full of nutrients and zings of peppery goodness.

Few people know the aquatic plant better than the team at Kingfisher Farm Shop, with generations of the family growing this quintessentially English product since 1854.

Their watercress is grown in natural spring water, which provides all the necessary nutrients without the aid of fertilisers or insecticides. All that said, Kingfisher Farm Shop is so much more than just watercress.

Fresh produce at Kingfisher Farm Shop - Photo Chloe HardwickFresh produce at Kingfisher Farm Shop - Photo Chloe Hardwick

The chances are that if you’ve ever driven the road between Dorking and Guildford, you will have noted that you really should return to dip your feet in the picturesque stream at Abinger Hammer and find out what that intriguing looking farm shop is all about. It’s an unassuming building, just off the main road, and found alongside a little pond.

Walk through the beautiful blooms (they sell flowers too), step inside the intimate store and you immediately get why this place is so special to so many people. It’s filled with vibrant produce, character and warmth.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find the charming Barry Arminson and daughter Marion keeping a watchful eye on visitors while arranging the latest batch of deliveries too.

The steady stream of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat from local farmers and other local produce that’s handy for a lockdown (wine, beer, gin, anyone?!) has become even more essential recently.

The shop’s delicious watercress and fantastic seasonal produce, including superb English asparagus from nearby Sondes Place Farm, is joined by Chalk Hills Bakery bread; Hill House Farm sausage rolls, meats and ready meals; curries and more from Mandira’s Kitchen; beers from Pilgrim, Hogs Back, Crumbs and more; gin from Silent Pool, wine from Albury and Denbies; Surrey Hills Coffee; we could go on.

During more normal times, they produce changing weekly flower and vegetable table arrangements for Steve Drake’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Dorking, Sorrel, and recently hosted Fanny’s Marmalade Competition, an annual Surrey tradition that started at the much-missed Fanny’s Farm Shop near Merstham many years ago.

Suffice to say, Kingfisher Farm Shop is the community hub that we all wished we had on our doorstep. Perhaps, this is a time when we’ll all be truly reminded not to take the hardworking farmers, growers and food and drink producers in our area for granted.

It’s been incredible to see how proactive people have been, from increased veg box deliveries to collaborations between amazing small Surrey businesses and even new products to help make life a little sweeter.

The likes of Kingfisher Farm Shop continue to act as a foundation for all these efforts, so please, please, please continue to support Surrey’s small independent food and drink businesses during this time and then long afterwards too.

About Local Food Britain

Kingfisher Farm Shop is a member of Local Food Britain, a food and drink network that has brought together approved members from across Surrey and beyond.

From independent tearooms to bustling farm shops, small local producers, speciality and fine foods, you can eat, drink and breathe all things local by visiting: localfoodbritain.com

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