Surrey Hills Society on supporting our farmers
PUBLISHED: 05:50 16 June 2014 | UPDATED: 08:18 16 June 2014
The chairman of the Surrey Hills Society, Chris Howard, on why it’s so important to support our local farmers
One of my greatest pleasures in being a member of the Surrey Hills Society is meeting the fascinating people who live here. This month, our members have the opportunity to meet some of the characters that make up the local food producers across the Mole Valley/Tillingbourne Valley area.
We are starting our day with a tour of the Norbury Blue cheese producers at the foot of Box Hill. Neil and Michaela are the only cheese producers in Surrey, and produce their tasty blue cheese from their own herd of pretty, Friesian dairy cows.
Lunch is at The Jolly Farmers pub in Buckland. Owners Jon and Paula are passionate about local food. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their food is delightful! In fact, they won not just one but two categories at the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards last year – Pub of the Year and Best Local Menu. I am keen to introduce them to more of our members.
In the afternoon, we are visiting Kingfisher’s Watercress and Farm Shop in Abinger Hammer. The original watercress business was started in 1854. I am looking forward to hearing how they have successfully evolved their business to keep up with the competition from supermarkets.
Finally, the afternoon will also include a visit to a privately owned Elizabethan manor house set in a picturesque hidden valley. This is home to another passionate farmer, who specialises in rare breeds including the five-toed Dorking chicken.
Farming in Surrey is not easy and yet it is so crucial to how our beautiful ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ looks. If our local farmers cannot successfully produce beef, lamb, dairy and other products, then our county will cease to have the green rolling hillsides that we all enjoy walking, cycling or driving through in our leisure time.
In short, our farmers are the guardians of the thing that so many of us hold dear – our ‘green and pleasant land’.
So, if you wish to do your bit to help our local farmers, remember to shop at farmers’ markets whenever possible, always buy local produce and support local food producer groups like the Dorking Food Float and the Surrey Hills Enterprises.
It may be a cliché but never was a truer word said than ‘use it or lose it…’
For more information about helping out in our local countryside or getting involved with the Surrey Hills Society, please pay a visit to their website at surreyhillssociety.org