How Daylesford Became England’s Most Elegant Farm Oasis
Ten years ago foodies would be hard-pressed to find a Farm-to-Table restaurant that didn’t feel a little, well, sparse. The worldwide obsession with local food and authentic ingredients, however, has led Daylesford Organic Farm in Gloucestershire, England to become one of the foremost leaders in the “refined locavore” movement as we know it.
Daylesford Farm is more than just a farm, though: it’s a farmshop, cafe, spa, clothing boutique, event space, yoga studio, juice bar, butchery, and a cookery school all in one– one that features everything from courses on wild food foraging to the intricacies of whole animal butchering. (They also have an amazingly-stocked cafe/food shop in London.) Daylesford also offers an array of workshops that celebrate the benefits of healthy eating and nutrient-rich, seasonal ingredients.
The farm offers weekend wellness retreats where guests can stay in one of the on-site Cotswold cottages while practicing yoga or getting a spa treatment at the on-site Bamford Haybarn Spa, which also emphasizes plant-based healing through its bespoke beauty line. (“What goes on the body is as important as what we put inside,” reads a quote from Carol Bamford emblazoned on one of the Spa’s tables.) While the spa’s cacay nut oil facial serum has already become a GC favorite, what is most impressive is the Daylesford’s dedication to sustainability and a refined experience of nature– they’ve transformed the experience of agriculture into an elegant experience– no small feat when there are literally pigs running around (in appropriately charming pens, that is). Carole Bamford, founder of the Daylesford Farmshop, Cafe, and Spa, answered a few of our questions about the project below.
GC: When did you know you wanted to create a place like Daylesford Farm?
CB: Over thirty-five years ago, we began to turn our family’s farmland over to sustainable, organic farming, first in Staffordshire and then in the Cotswolds. It wasn’t until 2002 that we opened the doors to Daylesford Farmshop and Cafe in Gloucestershire and of course there were a couple of years of planning in the lead up. At that time we were milking our dairy heard and I met an inspirational artisan cheesemaker, who came to make cheddar on the farm. I suppose it was from this moment that I began to wonder if we could grow and produce more from our organic farm and open a farmshop.
We started with the Farmshop and Cafe and over the years, we’ve restored and converted further farm buildings to encompass a Cookery School, Bamford Hay Barn Spa, Bamford Barn (our womenswear brand) and cottage where visitors can stay. What began as a simple passion for real food and a desire to feed our children better has grown into Daylesford as we know it today and we are one of the most sustainable organic farms in the UK.
GC: How has the community responded to the establishment since its inception?
CB: Having opened and established Daylesford in Gloucestershire, we recognised many of our customers were coming from London for the day and so we decided to open farmships with cafes in London as well. We’ve allowed the business to grow organically and we hope that be having the Cookery School and spa in Gloucestershire it brings a little more to the area and to our neighbours.
GC: Where did the ‘heart’ motif that can be seen around Daylesford come from?
CB: At Daylesford we care for the environment, our animals and for future generations– so it started as a symbol of our care and commitment.
GC: How do you source your purveyors?
CB: When it isn’t possible to produce or make products on our own farms we look for suppliers who share our values.
With regards to food and drink we first look to fill the gaps from farms and producers from local areas. For special seasonal offerings, such as figs and blood oranges, we look to Europe first and to get our larder staples like pepper, cocoa and rice we do have to source from further afield but we never airfreight. We always look for them to be organic but when it is not possible they are produced as naturally as possible– they should also taste good. Sometimes we find a non-organic product so good, so unbeatable in flavour compared to organic versions that we just have to sell it. For example many artisans in cheese and charcuterie use sustainable methods, and maybe organic ingredients, but don’t go through the admin work of certification. In all cases, we are proud of their provenance story: where the ingredients are sourced and how the product is made.
I have always been passionate about supporting artisans and traditional craftsmanship and therefore you’ll find many of the homeware and cookshop products have a lovely story behind them.