Going Against the Grain
New House Farm is already amongst the more diverse farms in Horsham. Max Walton, a fourth generation farmer, devotes most of the farm’s 900 acres to arable farming, producing milling wheat, milling oats, oilseed rape, beans and linseed which is exported all over the world.
Twenty years ago, a business centre was built, with twenty units for local companies, and another decade on from that the Waltons launched a fruit picking arm to the farm. Now, as people head to New House Farm on the Old Crawley Road (just before you reach the A264 Crawley Road) to pick strawberries and raspberries, they will be greeted by a new farm shop, created within a beautiful renovated barn.
Lucie Walton, Max’s wife, is running the farm shop and tea room with her daughter Laura. Lucie said: “We started the Pick Your Own ten years ago with a view to eventually opening up a farm shop. We renovated the barn, keeping as much of the original structure and exposed beams as we could, and the whole project took three years from planning to it all being finished.
“Laura has helped me set up and she is now running the kitchen. She has been a great help. She did a Fine Art degree at University and has a good eye for layout. She’s also sourced a lot of the products and brought a younger person’s perspective to the shop.”
Max’s father Gerald bought New House Farm in 1960, with the farm initially running as a cattle and arable farm.
Previously, Jack Walton - Gerald’s father - had operated a farm nearby at Chennells Brook, where he was a tenant on the land. The farm now occupies land from Moorhead Roundabout to Faygate and is on both sides of the A264. These days Max’s son Robert helps out on the farm, which is now an arable farm, in addition to running Treeco - his own tree surgery business.
Max said: “The farm shop is another form of diversity. Agriculture goes up and down and the shop is a way of
balancing the uncertainties of arable farming.”
The Walton family have done a great job of sourcing the best local produce for the farm shop. They sell a Fairtrade filter coffee blended specifically for New House Farm, as well as stocking products from Coffee Real of Capel and Hada del Café of Pulborough. The fruit and vegetables come from Munneries, aside from the strawberries and raspberries which come from the farm (asparagus is being grown for 2013).
A Henfield baker delivers fresh bread every day and a Billingshurst lady makes the scones sold in the tea room. Downsview Farm supplies the milk and its own ice cream, whilst the deli has a number of Sussex cheeses as well as the popular Black Bomber – a cheddar from Wales. Country Farm Cakes of Buck Barn supply a range of treats, while other suppliers include Eazy Cuizine (frozen food), New Street Butchers, Banger’s Galore, Bay Tree (chutneys and preserves), Simply Olive Oils, Sussex Gold (oils), Perrin’s Fine Foods (nuts), Besmoke (garlic and spices), Cocoa Loco (chocolate) and Weald Smokery.
There is also an extensive range of drinks available. They include Ringden Farm apple juice, Wright’s dark ginger, beer from microbrewery Fallen Angel (coming with some quirky labels), Mr Whitehead’s ciders, Blonde organic lager from Hepworth’s, Nutbourne vineyard’s Sussex Reserve and a sparkling wine from the Bluebell Vineyard. The shop also has refilling barrels of cider from Middle Farm in Lewes.
Lucie said: “The ethos of the shop is to support local businesses as much as I can. If I haven’t gone for local then I’ve gone for quality. We try and stock things that are a little unusual but still at a reasonable price that people are prepared to pay. “We have some gifts on sale here too, which adds to the attraction of the farm shop, but I don’t want to go too heavily into the craft side of things as this is primarily a food outlet.
“We have cards by a local company called GingaRoo, buntings, cushions and cards from Bonny Boutique in Horsham and raffia bags from Bags of Fun. It’s good for us and it’s good for them too as they have a nice local outlet for their work. As far as the food is concerned I’m sticking to what’s in season with the fruit and vegetables, but when I get to learn what people want then we will expand the range we offer. It could be that we introduce new suppliers soon but we’ll see what happens.”