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Behind the scenes at Groobarbs Wild Farm in Cheshire

Food is seasonal and straight from the field. (c) Mark Bristol
Food is seasonal and straight from the field. (c) Mark Bristol

Having grown up with a traditional kitchen garden, I firmly believe there’s nothing better than homegrown vegetables. But how do those of us, without the time, space, or motivation to grow our own, enjoy the best of fresh seasonal produce rather than supermarket fare, that’s been flown halfway around the world? After a friend gave me a leaflet about a local Cheshire Farm with a Field Kitchen, I felt it my duty to investigate for the benefit of Cheshire Life readers and arranged to meet David Fryer, owner of Groobarbs Wild Farm.

I was immediately taken by David’s boundless energy and enthusiasm for the farming enterprise, which began in the summer of 2013 when he and his wife Rebecca planted their first seeds in what they then referred to as ‘the field’. David and Rebecca started by growing their produce as organically as possible and that philosophy is exactly the same today. It is this approach David tells me, that significantly improves the flavour of the vegetables and ensures there is no pesticide residue in the crop. They are also committed to caring for the environment and have planted many native trees and hedges for wildlife.

Great British Life: Groobarbs founders David and Rebecca Fryer. (c) Mark BristolGroobarbs founders David and Rebecca Fryer. (c) Mark Bristol

So, what inspired them to start the business in the first place? David says: 'When I was around seven years old, driving around the Cheshire countryside with my dad, I was always interested in looking at veg fields, the colours, the activity and different growing stages looked wonderful. But heading into the 21st century I could see those veg fields had disappeared and nearly every farmer had given up. Yet the soil is perfect and people missed really fresh local produce. So around 10 years ago I made it my purpose to bring veg growing in Cheshire back to life.'

Local farmers were sceptical about the venture at first. The couple had no practical experience and only hand tools to harvest their first crop. But they had the determination and drive to make it work and slowly but surely, they built the business up.

Since the early days of selling vegetables at local farmers' markets, the business has expanded and now delivers fresh seasonal vegetables to customers across Cheshire, Manchester, Liverpool and parts of Staffordshire and Derbyshire. In 2021, David and Rebecca also acquired another 60 acres of land at Great Budworth, enabling the business to grow 50 different crops that are harvested throughout the year.

Great British Life: A good place to grow. Looking out towards Budworth Mere. (c) Mark BristolA good place to grow. Looking out towards Budworth Mere. (c) Mark Bristol

The Field Kitchen opened in the summer of 2022 to showcase the farm produce and has received much acclaim from diners. The kitchen team is led by talented chef Mark Price, who previously worked for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his River Cottage Canteen, and now works his magic in the Cheshire countryside.

I was excited to experience the Field Kitchen for myself, so I took my husband David along a couple of weeks later to sample the menu. The lunch was absolutely scrumptious, with five courses of inspirational dishes created by Mark, using the vegetables grown on the farm, along with other products including delicious sourdough bread from Lovingly Artisan and beef from a local supplier. I should have taken photos, but I was far too busy enjoying the delicious food accompanied by a glass of English wine.

Great British Life: A Groobarbs box of goodness grown in the good earth of Cheshire. (c) Mark BristolA Groobarbs box of goodness grown in the good earth of Cheshire. (c) Mark Bristol

Some of my favourite Groobarbs Recipes by head chef Mark Price from the Field Kitchen

o Salt-baked beetroot with whipped feta, fennel seed pastry and an orange dressing

o Leek, potato, spinach and wild garlic soup

o Harlequin squash with borlotti beans, pumpkin, cauliflower and a roasted red sauce

o Harissa roasted cauliflower

o Rhubarb and caramelised white chocolate with pumpkin seed granola.

To learn more about the farm, visit the website where you can order a Groobox delivery, book a meal in the Field Kitchen and browse the fabulous recipe collection.

Groobarbs Wild Farm is just off the A50 between Knutsford and Warrington, at Mag Lane, High Legh WA16 0AA

Great British Life: The Field Kitchen. (c) Mark BristolThe Field Kitchen. (c) Mark Bristol


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