Cedarbarn Farm Shop and Cafe
What town/city are you based in?
Number of generations
Number of employees
£500k – £1m
Tell us about your family business (What you do, how you started, who’s involved etc)
The family farm has been in Thornton Dale for over 100 years, Four Generations of ‘Avisons’ have farmed at Topbridge Farm which has seen many changes, culminating in the farm shop enterprise. Once a mixed arable farm, after the downturn in farming, we diversified into a number of projects including PYO soft fruits, asparagus and direct sales of boxed Aberdeen Angus beef. Options were considered on how to develop this from a cottage industry into a business to keep the farm viable for generations to come. With experience already gained; Karl’s background in agriculture and Mandy’s former life in the hotel and catering industry it was a natural progression, tying all aspects of the business together and the Farm Shop dream was born. The Cedarbarn Farm Shop and Café was opened in 2007
The business is very much a family affair with Karl and Mandy running the business and their 23-year-old daughter Chloe managing the farm shop, she came into the business at 19 having decided that University was not for her and wanted to put her energy into learning from the bottom up. Karl’s nephew James joined the team full time for two years after he finished university, splitting his time between the farm, maintenance and we are proud to say that he was hugely responsible for engineering the new miniature railway.
After taking a year out on finishing university while saving up to go travelling Karls niece Hollie has been working in the business full-time and previous to this worked during the holidays and weekends from being at school. Karl’s sister recently retired from nursing works 1 day a week in the Butchery and helps out around the farm, she is also the first point of call if anyone cuts themselves! Even Karl’s mum Maureen comes in when she is at a loose end on a Sunday to help out in the kitchen.
Cedarbarn Farm Shop Cedarbarn began as a small PYO strawberries operation, Karl rears Aberdeen Angus beef and Charolais Cross lamb and grows acres of seasonal fruit and vegetables to sell in the farm shop, which is managed by daughter Chloe.
Visitors can pick their own produce, take a ride on the miniature railway train which trundles through picturesque farmland offering stop offs to pick strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants, and enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or afternoon tea in the Cedarbarn, Full-length windows overlook green fields, ‘PYO’ and vegetable patches and swathes of table top strawberries.
In the café, the ethos is one of excellence in quality and service, traditional, wholesome food prepared with the finest ingredients, using home grown or local produce wherever possible. The menus and specials board reflect the farm’s growing patterns – from asparagus in the spring through strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, roots and brassicas in the winter. Home reared Aberdeen Angus has pride of place on the daily menu with roast beef and the family’s own Charolais Cross Lamb a highlight on the very popular Sunday lunch menu.
What’s your proudest moment/biggest achievement as a family business?
The year after we opened the bank crash hit and bank support was not as it had been. We had a tricky few years culminating in our previous accountant advising us we should consider selling as it was unlikely we would be able to turn the business around! I am proud to say after hard work and careful monitoring of the business we did pull the business back into profit.
We were proud to welcome the Arch Bishop of York to the Cedarbarn on his pilgrimage last year, also to be asked to supply Karl’s homegrown asparagus for the lunch of Her Majesty the Queen on her visit to Scarborough in 2011. It was a great, if slightly unreal moment being featured on James Martin’s Home Comforts show on BBC 1 in 2015 followed by a visit to his Hampshire home and watching Karl & Chloe, like true professionals chatting onscreen to James while he prepared a recipe with our gooseberries.
We are so proud of the awards we have won including several Deliciouslyorkshire Awards, National FARMA Award and Campaign to protect Rural England. The high spot however for us all was winning the Red Ribbon Award for Best of British at Wembley last year, definitely, a pinch me moment!
What do you love about being a family business?
Despite the light-hearted bickering along the way! we know that we are there for each other, working towards the same goals, we have trust in each other, support each other and most of all enjoy time spent together.