So after a very silly evening spent avoiding the wrath of the scary landlady, sniggering and drinking gin in a tin, fellow blogging buddy Laura and I were collected by lovely A from Yeo Valley and transported in the Landrover of Death to the gorgeous Organic Gardens at Holt Farm, well, the tea room, to be more precise.
I LOVE the tea room at Holt Farm. I big puffy heart it. It’s just so deliciously quirky and everything’s not quite what it seems. For example, check out the lights:
and look at this lovely comfy sofa looking out onto the garden. I could while away several happy hours (or possibly days) perched here with a paper…
…and some of their lovely fruity pastries:
…just admiring the view… and the gnomage!
So a bit of background, then: I guess you could say that Holt Farm was the very starting point of Yeo Valley Organics. Roger and Mary Mead first began making their yogurts on the kitchen table there in the 1970s, and although Yeo Valley is now much bigger, the business still runs from the area, with their son Tim and other family members and staff still farming and milking their cows in the gorgeous Somerset countryside. When Tim, now Yeo Valley’s Director, and his wife Sarah inherited Holt Farm from Tim’s parents some 20 years ago, Sarah really threw herself into making the garden something special. Fast forward to today, and it’s one of the very few organically certified ornamental gardens in the country.
Seeing as I’d brought the rain with me from Ireland, we decided to stay inside and have a chat first. We talked about yogurts and cheese and compote (did you know Yeo Valley make amazing fruit compotes – I reckon they should shout about it a bit more, but they’re a reserved bunch) and then, before we knew it, it was time for lunch:
and then seeing as we were there and it would have been rude not to – we had to have a little tasting sesh as well:
The greedy amongst you will have zeroed in on the West Country Fudge flavour, which was so gorgeous that there was absolutely no way I was just taking a little bit on the tasting spoon and passing it on. No way at all. We also tasted a really very zingy Passion Fruit flavour as well, and to save any ‘lemon curduments’, we let Laura have all the Lemon Curd flavour. She starts growling if you take it off her.
Other surprises were some really very nice ice creams and frozen yogurts:
… the latter having much less fat than traditional ice creams, but with no artificial taste and a lovely creamy flavour. My favourite was the strawberry one. Yum.
And then finally the sun came out, and full up from all that yoghurt, we were happy to pootle around the garden with the lovely Sarah for company and hear all about the amazing garden. Holt Farm is run as a ‘closed system’, which means they produce their own compost, loam and fertiliser and as much as possible they don’t buy in plants, but propagate their own.
The whole garden has an amazing contemporary feel, with some really tasteful local artwork and really creative planting:
The farmhouse itself looks amazeballs (I’d love to have a shufty inside) with gorgeous views across Blagdon Lake…
I would have shown you a much better picture of the ‘to die for’ views only I came across one of the things at Holt Farm that I don’t covet, and that’s a very disagreeable rooster, who chased me away before I could take any more pictures. Apart from that bird, though, I had a great time.
Very many thanks, as always, to the lovely chaps at Yeo Valley for entertaining us so well (we’ll just forget about the rooster, shall we?). I just love them. Not just because they’re all about sustainability and living off the land and all that organic stuff, but because they’re so genuine – farmers, doing what they do best, and doing it well.
If you want to visit the organic gardens at Holt Farm, check out: theorganicgardens.co.uk.