THE opening of an all-new farm shop that champions local producers was hosted by a judge from Channel 4’s Great British Bake Off.
Prue Leith CBE joined visitors and shop co-owners Fred Duncannon and Sam Edden at the opening of the new Stansted Park Farm Shop, at Stansted House.
The new shop has replaced the old one at the site near Rowlands Castle, and now comes complete with a full butchery, deli counter and kitchen.
It also stocks food and drink from 92 producers based within a 30-mile radius from the shop.
Fred, 43, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see our shop open and it’s a real showcase for produce from Sussex and Hampshire.
‘It’s great to have such a wonderful turnout of customers and producers as well, and we’re honoured to have Prue Leith with us – I know her through a friend and she was happy to come and support us.’
The shop is based in a timber framed barn that was built by the Stansted Park Foundation using douglas fir from the Stansted Estate, planted in 1946 by the Women’s Land Army.
It was fitted out with partial funding from a Coast 2 Capital LEADER grant and a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter. It raised £35,000 from more than 270 backers.
Customers turned out to watch Prue open the shop, browse the local producer courtyard market outside it, and watch founder of restaurant chain Wahaca, Thomasina Miers, hold a cooking demonstration.
The new kitchen will serve brunch and lunch using the seasonal produce found in the shop, as well as offering evening supper clubs, events and catering.
Prue, who appeared on BBC Two’s Great British Menu for more than 10 years, said: ‘I’m a really strong believer that small businesses are the future of this country.
‘This is a beautiful, modern building that feels friendly and warm, and it’s full of good food – what more could you want?
‘I’m glad that Fred and Sam’s efforts in creating this new shop have paid off.’
Jo Dyer, from Warblington, visited the new farm shop having been a customer of the previous one. The 65-year-old said: ‘This new place is amazing. There’s such a variety of food on offer and there’s much more space.’