Sutton Green Garden Centre, Whitmoor Lane, Guildford Rd, Woking GU4 7QB
A farm shop selling artisan products (some exclusive to the shop) and a great range of fresh produce and local meat.
The upside: Noel has to be one of the friendliest guys I know and will do anything (within reason) for his customers.
The downside: None here to report!
The flipside: An eclectic range of culinary treats for special occasions and ingredients to cook a whole family meal from scratch.
Noel Dobson arrived in Sutton Green Garden Centre four years ago and we are all the better for it. Fresh from a career as a care-home provider, he is embracing the world of food retailing to good effect. I visited when the shop first opened – a little early, maybe. Now the shop has expanded, the stock increased and he has a hard core following of local shoppers who love his helpful personality and range of fresh and packaged food on offer.
This farm shop is part of a garden centre with land, so growing for the shop and pick your own is part of the bigger picture here. But this is also a shop where you can go and buy ingredients for cook-from-scratch meals. Free-range chicken, sausages, fresh vegetables, sauces and condiments are here for the taking! The provenance of the products makes this shop a local foodie destination as it stocks free-range eggs, local bacon and sour dough bread from the bread factory in London.
Noel ensures he buys provisions his customers want and his friendly personality is another draw. On my last visit we sampled lovely fresh apples just in from a farm in Sussex.
Constantly looking for new products Noel listens to his customers and now has a comprehensive range of gluten free products.
Cheese from Surrey, Sussex and Kent form a great portfolio from local artisan producers. It was good to see Ellie’s goat cheeses alongside High Weald, Norbury Blue and Dunley Wood. Fresh meat, chicken and sausages are from local butcher, Wakeling’s.
The garden centre’s polytunnels supply fresh crops every morning during the growing season. Rhubarb, Swiss chard, salad onions and spinach were all in stock and had travelled around 400 metres to their selling point. Food miles may be less of an issue in the argument on climate change but veg is at its nutritional best when it has just been picked!
This shop is a much needed resource in an area that is dominated by a large supermarket. It has a great location and ample parking: pop in and pick up a pint of milk or a loaf of fresh artisan bread but make sure you peruse the shelves – there are some real treats in store!