In early January on a misty morning l set off from Kent to visit a very special place in Worcestershire.
I was met by Will Kerton who is married to Gillian, daughter to Michael Davies who are fourth and fifth generation owners of Churchfields farm.
One hundred years ago, Churchfields Farm within the Salwarpe Valley on the edge of Droitwich Spa was bought by Thomas Davies, as part of the High Park and Salwarpe Court Estate auction held in Worcester on April 16th 1913. He paid £1460. The farm was 45 acres at the time, and was home to a herd of 15 dairy shorthorns. All the milk was delivered by horse and trap to the local town of Droitwich.
Its fair to say that some things never change at the farm – and yet they are constantly evolving.
There are always exciting opportunities to explore, and new things to try which as Gillian mentioned will ensure the family are still there, well into the 22nd Century.
The farm is in a lovely rural location with breath-taking views on all sides or so l was told! The mist was shrouding everywhere around on my day to visit.
The farm is predominately Dairy with a mixed herd of predominantly Holstein with some Belgium Blue, Hereford and Shorthorns supplying milk to their own dairy where they produce Milk, Cream, Butter and Ice Cream in their micro dairy which can all be purchased in their lovely farm shop and Café. This was recently commissioned from an old oak framed barn or at local outlets including a milk dispensing machine that will sell directly in sealed bottles or customers own containers.
Investing in future generations is very important to the family so that they can pass the farm on to their children in a better state than they found it. In everything that is produced at the farm they consider their environmental impact, and seek to protect and enhance the farm’s biodiversity and reduce its carbon footprint.
Hot water and heating for three houses, the shop, café and its out buildings is produced by a bio fuel heating system which uses locally sourced trees which are chipped and dried on site to feed the furnace. This is run alongside a 120kw solar panel system placed in a small field near to the farm yard which provides the power for pasteurising, heaters in the dairy and cookers in the café which alone reduced the farms carbon footprint by 38.5 tons of carbon dioxide in just nine months of operation.
My main reason for visiting Will at Churchfields farm was to witness the production of Droitwich salt.
Will was conversed by his father in law to give up his job in real estate and come and work on the farm overseeing a new line which was the salt production. They had secured a licence to produce 200 tonnes of Salt annually.
On 4th September 2017, after almost a century, the world’s first and only known salt made from pure brine springs, once again went into production.
Droitwich Salt is sourced from one of the oldest and purest brine springs in the world.
It was historically, and justly, celebrated for its great purity and today this PURE and NATURAL FLAVOUR still comes through.
The salt is harvested by hand where the gentle process of crystallising the natural brine to pure salt is done using renewable energy.
These Brine Springs have naturally existed beneath Droitwich Spa for millions of years.
It was an internationally valuable resource in Roman, Anglo Saxon and Norman Times and King John granted the town a Royal Charter in 1215 based on the importance of its brine.
Droitwich Spa was subsequently one of the most prosperous towns in Medieval Times right through to the 20th Century. In the mid-19th Century Droitwich Salt won international recognition and was awarded a ‘Premier Class No 41’ designation.
Today, they are once again using this unique resource to make the purest, natural brine spring salt in the world.
“Having both grown up in Droitwich, we are immensely proud to be part of a product revival with such local and international importance. While we are a family farming business located in the Heart of England our vision is to become a major player in the wider UK gourmet salt market and firmly position Droitwich Salt as a delicious natural alternative”
Will & Gillian Kerton.
With my eyes open to bringing new British foods to the Club for the membership to enjoy and talk about l am very pleased to say that we will be using Droitwich Salt at the Club in the new season menu offering. Your club is probably the first establishment in London to be supporting this venture.