Award winning ethical farm shops in Ockley and Dorking run by owners Catherine and James Dampier who have stuck hard to their founding principles
The downside: Be prepared to pay for quality and integrity but its totally worth it
The flip-side: Both shops are in lovely locations and at Ockley you can enjoy a take-away coffee in their very own bee garden across the road
Full details of both shops are listed below
James and Catherine Dampier gave up successful jobs to start their food business and through hard work and determination have made their mark. In a climate where spurring food retailers are eager to undercut each other and suppliers how did a business set up on ethical principles fare?. Its eight years since the first Village Greens shop opened in Ockley near Dorking. They wowed locals with their well sourced range of preserves, chutneys, local cheeses and meat. Word of mouth, local press, social media and a changing perception of food buying have all played a part and with two shops under their belts and a loyal following this business is thriving. James and Catherine are the first to admit this hasn’t been easy but this creative innovative couple have dug their heels in and stayed the course where others have not.
With their first shop in Ockley they also have an acre of land to grow their own produce and flowers. In the summer months they sell their home own salad leaves, fresh herbs, courgettes, beans, kohl rabi and fruit. What they are not able to supply themselves is sourced locally from within a 30 miles radius of the shop. Currently they have eighteen suppliers who are within ten miles who provide beef, lamb, chicken, sausages, ice cream, wine, chocolates, bread, milk, cream, cheese, cakes and more. Providing a fair deal to their suppliers is part of their winning ethos as is employing local people to help in the shops. This also extends to using local materials and tradespeople proving that with a little extra thought and care this is an achievable aim.
At Denbies they also grow vegetables and flowers in the walled garden on the site loaned to them by the owners for this purpose. This means that in season the produce for both shops has travelled metres to be sold. In addition to the farm shop they also sell garden plants including herbs. This shop also has a deli counter where cheese and charcuterie can be cut to order rather than just pre-packed items.
It’s the food here of course that creates the winning element for me and I just wished I lived a little closer to be a more regular shopper. Those lucky enough to do so can take part in the vegetable box scheme too. These are prepared every Friday for pick up at either of the two shops are for delivery providing you live between Ockley and Dorking. Both shops boast a eclectic stock of cooking ingredients, fresh free range poultry from Etherley farm, sausages from Bangers Galore. Luxury chocolate comes from a selection of local producers such as Cocoa Bonbon and Kokoh, artisan bread from Chalk Hills and Capel Bakery.
Village Greens hosts a meet the producers days at their food fairs held every year and samples are a regular feature! last time I was lucky enough to sample Silent Pool Gin which is fabulous (and coming from a non gin drinker this is epic) and perfect lemon drizzle cake from Chalk Hills Bakery. On each visit you’ll find new stock, nibbles and a friendly knowledgable welcome. This venue gets a highly recommended from me!
Village Greens Farm Shops are located at:
Dorking, RH5 5LS
Denbies Wine Estate
Dorking, RH5 6AA