You know sometimes how you feel that something is so good you want to shout about it? Well, that’s us right now, after our visit to Coombe Farm Organic in Somerset. The Coombe Farm estate covers some 2,000 acres and has been farmed since the 1940’s; tucked away in a peaceful valley not far from Crewkerne, the landscape is one of lush pastures and rolling hills dotted with small copses.
You should drop by when you’re staying nearby at one of our large group holiday houses; Coombe Farm Organic is just a few miles up the road from Beaverbrook 20 and Beaverbrook 30 and within easy reach of Holemoor Stables and Coat Barn. What they have besides a busy dairy farm and productive meat farm with its own butchery, is a tantalisingly stocked farm shop and café, a woodland for private feasting and foraging, and a sporting shop that offers clay pigeon shooting tuition. If you visit the Coombe Farm website before your stay with Sleeps12 you can order all manner of local goodies to be delivered to your holiday house for your arrival. There’s a choice of top-notch beef, pork, lamb, chicken and venison – all raised on Somerset soil without a whiff of pesticides or artificial fertilisers.
If you want more during your stay just ring ‘em up and they’ll deliver – or you can go and collect; book a Farm Tour at the same time and find out just how big that field to fork ethic is. They’ll take up to 18 people on a tour and though you’ll see cows and sheep grazing the pastures, and pigs snuffling about as they do, you don’t get to stroke the baby animals or feed them. This is all about the working side of things, a chance to learn the nitty gritty of organic farming, to really understand where your food comes from and how it’s produced.
Stop for coffee and cake in the shop; lunch is served between high noon and 3pm; choose from homemade soups, pies, beef and horseradish sausage rolls, an open steak sandwich, a hot smoked salmon salad… tickled your tastebuds? Cakes are made just down the road and have your favourites covered, like coffee and walnut, carrot, and the most heavenly brownies. Wash it down with a glass of Hullabaloos Lemonade, or Coombe Farm’s very own apple juice, made using apples grown on the farm. If you fancy something stronger there are 4 types of beer brewed on site, some excellent organic and biodynamic wines, or give the Black Cow Vodka or Tarquins G&T a go.
The café can be hired for private events in the evening, with room for 30 people sat down and loads more standing; if you’re down this way celebrating a significant something, that sounds like a good idea to us. The guys at Coombe Farm Organic will do the catering, you can throw open the doors if the weather is nice and your do can spill out into the garden, or you can hire the garden space and have it all looking lovely with a marquee, hay bales, twinkly lights and that.
A quick scan of the shelves in the farm shop is enough to tell you how serious these guys are about high quality, ethically produced food – ideally organic and certainly sourced as local as possible; it’s all about sustainability, keeping things beautiful, keeping it real. They have champagne that comes from a vineyard just over the hill, honey from Red Brick Cottage a few miles away, Spelt flakes from the nearby Sharpham Estate, and the acclaimed Somerset Cider Brandy, the only spirit on the menu at Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding.
As we’ve mentioned, another thing Coombe Farm Organic can do is catering, so if you’re planning a large group holiday in Somerset to celebrate a milestone birthday or anniversary, a hen weekend, or a graduation, either come to base or they’ll come to you. They’re geared up with some serious cooking equipment - a Big Green Egg, an Asado for cooking lamb, and a custom-built Shepherd’s Hut kitted out with grills, fryers, an oven and even a panini machine. Take your pick – have a hog roast, a barbecue, a buffet, picnic, cocktails and canapes, or a full-on six course dinner. All the ingredients and produce will come from the shop so you know it’s gonna be good. If you like alfresco have your party in Venley Woods at Coombe Farm, an absolute picture in the springtime with bluebells, ransoms and windflowers; plans are afoot to make a clearing right in the middle for feastings. Tell them what you want and they’ll do their best to make it happen, that’s how flexible they are; if you want a gazebo and hay bales that's what you shall have; if you’d like the Shepherd’s Hut brought down to the woods for a panini picnic it can be done, if you’d prefer burgers or a lamb joint roasted on the Big Green Egg or the Asado, not a problem. It’s your day, they’ll do everything they can to make sure it’s a happy one, something to remember.
Another thing they do in the woods is foraging, guided walks discovering all the things you’d never have dreamt you could eat – fill your baskets with wild garlic, pick scarlet elf caps, learn how to make nettle tea or how to use ground elder as a vegetable. Well, you know what they say; you learn something new every day..
And there’s more! You can even have clay pigeon tutorials with Coombe Farm Sporting; if you haven’t done it before give it a go, it’s good fun. They release the traps, you do your best to shoot the clays, they’ll tell you how to improve your shot; they’ve got all the gear and a qualified instructor but you’ll need to book in advance of course. Competitions are held on-site at certain times of the year so if you’re a well-practised shot, come along and test your skills.
They’ve pretty much thought of everything here – you can even buy logs and kindling for the wood-burner in your Sleeps12 holiday cottage, and if you’re having your own barbecue grab a bag of Bluebell Coppice Charcoal made in the woods a stone’s throw away.
What’s incredible is how this business has grown in the few years since it began, and testament to its success are the awards they’re notching up – the farm has held Soil Association Organic status for over 20 years, they’re a Red Tractor member, and they took the Soil Association BOOM award for Best Online Organic Retailer in 2017. You see, the people that run Coombe Farm really care about the land they tend, the animals they rear, and the end result, the food we eat; they have a zero waste policy and they look after the people who work there. It’s the way forward.
Coombe Farm is an amazing place. They have the imagination and the forward thinking to build a strong sustainable future for rural enterprises – if they can do it others can do it too. Go and see what it’s all about, spread the word.