11th October 2022
In this series about the region’s food producers and farmers, sisters-in-law Emma Higgins and Abby Janaway chat to Jonathan Thompson from Thrings
“Everyone would like to have the high street butcher, baker and greengrocer nearby – and that’s what we’re trying to do under one roof,” says Emma Higgins at Newlyns Farm Shop.
Every chop, sausage and steak on sale comes from the animals on the farm here in North Warnborough. Most of the rest of the stock, including fruit and veg, cheese, bread and much more, is locally sourced.
Newlyns Farm has been in Emma’s family for more than a century - it was bought by her grandfather around the end of the First World War. Emma and her sister-in-law Abby, married to Emma’s brother, took over in in 2002 and together they opened the shop just two years later.
The busy pair also oversee the farm’s beef cattle, pigs and three flocks of sheep, while Emma’s cousins take care of arable crops and potatoes.
Apart from a pick your own operation on the farm, the sisters-in law had limited experience of retail at the start – but they had an instinctive understanding of food: “The shop has always grown from our passion and love for the type of food that we enjoy,” says Abby. “We just decided to produce and sell what what we liked to eat.”
The shop has more than doubled in size over the last two decades. It now employs around 100 people, including a team of eight butchers, and welcomes 6,000 people each week to browse, buy, and enjoy the on-site café.
Two local bakeries deliver every day, veg comes from a Wiltshire farm, and Isle of Wight tomatoes of all shades and colours are a top seller.
The provenance of food is important to Emma and Abby, who favour traditional breeds and farming methods. “It’s very labour intensive – it’s not the easiest way and probably not the most profitable, but it’s the only way you have complete control over quality and consistency,” says Abby.
“We learned quickly that there are some products we must have all the year round to make sure people can get everything they need. A lot of our customers are foodies – they want to talk to people about what they are buying, and we make sure we have a brilliant, very knowledgeable team.”
Four years ago, the shop was updated with a refrigerated walk-in cheese room, and a fishmonger, while an expansion to the butchers area is next on the list. Looking after the farm, shop, and a cookery school can make for a busy life – so how on earth do they relax?
With good food, of course. “I always have rump steak and chips on a Friday night,” says Abby, before Emma chimes in: “And so do I!”
Jonathan Thompson is a senior associate in the agriculture team at the Romsey office of the law firm Thrings. Please get in contact if you have any questions relating to the issues raised in this is article.