Trading places: Battlers Green Farm, Radlett
PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 April 2016
It's out-of-town shopping, but not as you know it. Forget bland mega-stores, Battlers Green Farm is a charming rural shopping destination with over 20 independents offering quality, rare and lovingly-created goods and services
Farms used to just produce food. Today many have innovated and diversified to create a whole range of new businesses on their land. One such success story is Battlers Green Farm near Radlett. Still a working farm, a range of outbuildings have been sympathetically renovated to house an eclectic mix of shops and businesses. Here you can enjoy a relaxed shopping experience in a courtyard setting, enjoy brunch at The Bull Pen tearoom and have a beauty treatment, all in one rural location.
The farm is owned by Paul and Gillian Haworth. Paul’s parents began with a dairy herd and chickens, selling eggs, cream and milk from the back door in 1960. As business grew they opened a farm shop on the site, which has flourished. The shop is still family owned and retains its close connections to the farm, which currently has a herd of beef cattle and at one time had more than 9,000 hens. Today the shop stocks a wide range of produce, much of it local, including a comprehensive cheese selection, fruit and vegetables, as well as bread, cakes, preserves, chutney and wine.
It was in the late 1980s that the family began to develop the outbuildings to expand on the success of the farm shop. A florist and fishmonger were the first to move in. This has grown to the 21 businesses that now make up the ‘rural shopping village and tearooms’.
Food & drink
Karen Pomerance and Louise Caplin opened the multiple Great Taste Awards winners Spice Way in 2014. They stumbled on the idea while on holiday together in Israel. Louise loved the fruit teas and Karen the spices. They were also drawn to how their production brought people together in the troubled country, ‘In an area where there is so much conflict, here the Arab and Jewish people work together and attend each others celebrations. It is a fantastic model for the world,’ Karen says.
Spice Way specialises in combining spices and herbs to create modern blends for cooking. ‘People often come in with meat or fish and ask what spices will complement it,’ Karen says. The pair also host cookery masterclasses aimed at creating simple, healthy dishes. ‘For people that don’t like cooking we have something quick and easy, and for people that love cooking, they can experiment.’
Both meat and fish can be bought at Battlers Green Farm. Brimarks Butchers sells free range meat including beef from the farm, while the catch of the day and special orders can be had from Westons. Fishmonger Terry Hawley believes that if you can fry an egg then you can cook a fish dish and is happy to give advice. He sources his fish from Billingsgate Market in London but also supports Cornish and Shetland isles fisherman.
He regularly adds recipe ideas to his website, westonsfish.com. Try his drunken mussel recipe – you can pick up the necessary wine from the 400-strong stock at Wine on the Vine, which does tastings, gives pairing advice and offers free local delivery.
Looking for something a little different to wear? The light, bright Bora Bora Boutique stocks affordable women’s clothing not found on the high street. In her two years running the shop Wendy McNicholas has built up a loyal customer base. Find gorgeous accessories to match at nearby Lily Blu. Owner Martine Mair believes the mix of shops on the farm complement each other. She adds, ‘I often have people come in and say I didn’t know you were here. It’s almost like a secret but when people know about us they become regulars.’
The success of the smaller independents has also attracted larger outlets, with Osprey London recently opening a shop in the courtyard offering its range of vintage inspired leather bags and accessories.
Hertfordshire family business Blacks of Sopwell has been crafting wood furniture for 25 years. Its showroom at the farm beautifully showcases solid wood furniture and also unique interior pieces. And if the size of a piece isn’t quite right, don’t worry, they will make bespoke to your measurements.
Kitchen design experts Reith’s Interiors also has a showroom here, while for mounting your favourite artwork, head to Classic Framing.
Once a speciality of grandmas, tea cosies are back in vogue and the charming little gift and baking shop Sugar to Tea has ones which will delight among its range of tea and cake gifts. But do leave enough time to visit the Hertfordshire Craft Collective, whose barn is filled with antiques, vintage and handmade gifts from a range of makers and specialists.
Health & beauty
For those who want to explore alternative therapies, mother and daughter, Donna and Emma Morgan of Destiny Rising, will guide you through a range of options. This holistic shop also teaches different types of healing and offers tarot and medium readings. Donna became interested in holistic therapies after having healing treatment which led to her taking up Reiki. Emma says the treatments are about ‘going back to the roots’. ‘I can’t understand how people can happily take Nurofen but question using apple cider vinegar which is a natural healer.’ A fascinating shop, expect to get lost in its charm.
Espiritu hair and beauty use PETA certified products that are not only good for you but as owner Lisa Pearson says, ‘they work’. She has tastefully decorated the small spa to create an old-fashioned vibe and named the rooms after Hollywood legends, so you can enjoy a treatment in the Greta Garbo room. ‘We really focus on our customers and want to enhance their lives,’ Lisa says. With this in mind, she is launching Monday Moments, a group meditation and coaching session with tea and cake. For those who want something more energetic, Cyclezone offers high-energy indoor spin classes and Pilates.
Back in the farmhouse, Paul Haworth says he would certainly consider further development of the site but doesn’t want to spoil what they have already. Perhaps he will leave it to the next generation who are already working in the business – the third to take the reins at this remarkable success story.