A love of mine since I arrived in England has been River Cottage. For those of you who don’t know what River Cottage is, it started as a project set up by chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall who moved out of the city to the country to start a self sufficient farm on the border of Devon and Dorset. They documented this as a TV program which over the years has grown to a commercial success. Celebrating local ingredients and ethically raised produce, I was obsessed with following the development of the farm and trying out their simple recipes.
One of my good friends Nola who is equally passionate about food as I, suggested we met up in the Spring and we decided on where to visit. I said that somewhere that was on my bucket list before I left the UK was a visit to River Cottage and after finding some well cheap fares with Megatrain and a cute farm cottage to stay in nearby we were on our way. The cottage we stayed in was super cute (check it out on Air BNB if you’re going to visit this area) and about 1 hour 40 mins walk (or a 15 min drive) from River Cottage. We walked and when we arrived we were greeted by a friendly chap in a tractor asking if we needed any help.
Basically, the sign was all we got to see, there were security cameras everywhere and they only let you go in if you’re booked onto a course. I was disappointed of course after coming all this way, but we had been recommended by our Air BNB hosts to go to Trill Farm, which is very close by and a smaller less commercial version of River Cottage. We took a few pics of what we could (pretty much the sign) and then followed Google maps through fields of farmland full of adorable spring lambs.
What’s should you visit Trill Farm then you ask?
- On every Wednesday and Saturday the Old Dairy Kitchen hold a lunch in the barn that costs £15pp to the equivalent of the 3 course meal using ingredients grown or reared on the farm. I would recommend booking on advance (contact details on their website) as they are popular, especially in the summer. Our lunch included at least 6 different dishes including roasted cauliflower with smoky BBQ cauliflower puree; leeks cooked with cauliflower leaves; lamb shoulder slow cooked with chickpeas; roasted potatoes with spices; fresh Trill Farm salad leaves and grated fresh carrot with carrot hummus. They also served everything with homemade sourdough bread and butter that looked amazing (but not gluten free sadly).
For dessert we were served cooked rhubarb with rhubarb puree, on top of a meringue with a ginger sorbet. It was tangy, sour, sweet and spicy from the ginger. I nearly didn’t finish it because of the sweetness but I couldn’t help myself and ended up just going in for more!
- After lunch you will get a free tour around the garden by a member of staff, explaining the different areas of the farm and what everyone does. The farm was founded in 2008 by Romy Fraser as a place for small businesses to work together and for people to come as an education centre and they currently have a number of different businesses running on the farm and run courses throughout the year where you can learn new skills opt to volunteer. It was so insightful and I loved seeing all the different goings on!
- The chef – Chris Onions is a lovely bloke who used to work at River Cottage HQ before moving to Trill Farm. He is passionate about all things home grown and loves his bread making too. He runs Supper and Conversation evenings at the farm where he cooks delicious food and you listen to meaningful talks run by guest speakers. You can see the link here on their website for upcoming events. He also holds a monthly feast night for a more elaborate meal, again I would recommend booking in advance as they are becoming increasingly popular!
- Have you heard of Neal’s Yard Remedies? This company was founded at the farm and they still supply the company with medicinal herbs and make some of the soaps on site. We were able to go into the room where the soap is made (which smelt amazing) although this was using lavender which is imported from France, apparently you need a lot of lavender to make a concentrate which they use in the soap! You can take botanical walks in the farm for a small cost and on Wednesdays they have volunteer days to help out in the herb garden and if you do the dishes you are allowed to join for the Wednesday lunch.
- It’s just so peaceful and beautiful. We arrived early so sat in the grass outside the barn where the food was served and enjoyed the warm Spring sun. All of the staff and volunteers were so friendly and greeted us as they walked by, then a lot of the same people joined us for lunch in the dining room. They offer volunteering spots (usually a minimum of three months) where you can work in any area of the farm. This to me sounds so appealing as I imagine the lifestyle would be pretty chilled and one of the staff said they have a really nice little community.
- They have the Trill Farm shop where you can buy cookbooks, seconds of hand soap or remedies for super cheap, hand crafted cooking utensils or crockery and home made preserves or in my case I bought wild garlic pesto (that was delicious by the way). My friend bought a fermentation cookbook written by one of the small businesses on the farm which she really recommends and has found super useful so far! Great for a small affordable souvenirs of the area and something you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
I hope this gives you a few reasons to visit the farm, as it really is a special place and it was a nice surprise after the disappointment of River Cottage. In fact, it was perfect as what I loved about River Cottage years ago is everything Trill Farm is now. We combined it with a visit to Lyme Regis, a seaside town on the Jurassic Coast that’s lovely to visit for a day if you want some time by the beach.
If you like walking then you don’t need a car, you can pre-book taxis if you need and they’re pretty cheap. I think around a 15 min drive cost around £12? I would also strongly recommend the Garden Studio in Uplyme if there’s just two of you too, our hosts were very friendly and hospitable, they really had thought of everything and their recommendations for the area were perfect.
Have you been to Trill Farm? What did you think?