• Taste of the Cotswolds: Food Tourism and the Farm-to-Fork Revolution

    Rolling hills cloaked in outstanding natural beauty, quaint villages with honey-coloured stone cottages, and a gentle pace of life – the Cotswolds has long enticed visitors with idyllic charm. But beneath this picturesque facade lies something incredibly exciting: a thriving network of passionate producers crafting culinary treasures from the land itself.

    Forget factory-farmed fare and imported vegetables; here, the emphasis is on locally-grown produce, nurtured with care and bursting with the unique flavours of the Cotswolds’ distinct climate and soil. This is a story of sun-kissed strawberries, plump asparagus spears, fragrant cheeses, and great wines, all whispering tales of sun-drenched fields and ancient hedgerows.

     

     

     

    Farms

    Take Abbey Home Farm in Cirencester, a 1600-acre organic haven embraces the farm-to-fork philosophy with unwavering passion. With rows and rows of hearty vegetables destined for the on-site farm shop and nearby plates in homes and eateries, this organic farm in the Cotswolds are trail blazers in biodiversity, carbon storage and soil protection, and sustainably offering enjoyment and education to visitors from near and far.

    And Daylesford, the pioneering organic farm in the Cotswolds that embodies this farm-to-table ethos. From the sprawling fields that surround their farm to the farm shop and their renowned restaurant, freshly harvested bounty finds its way onto plates in delectable creations.

    And look to Poulton Hill Estate, a vineyard where sun-ripened grapes, handpicked from 9,750 vines growing on the south-facing slopes of Cotswold hills near Cirencester in the south, are transformed into award-winning wines.

    The small and ultra-dedicated team at the Poulton Hill Estate vineyard take their responsibility to be environmentally active and conscious very seriously, and the work doesn’t stop at the soil and the vines; it continues in the caring for the wildflowers they plant to help the insect population, and the Babydoll sheep that graze the orchard as they are perfect for keeping the area around the vines tidy without nibbling the grapes – and fertilising the soil as they graze.

    This harmoneous eco-system yeilds up to 20,000 bottles of wine and spirits a year, each sip evoking the essence of the Cotswolds, a testament to the region’s burgeoning winemaking scene.

     

    Vegetable plots

    The commitment to local sourcing extends far beyond dedicated farms. Restaurants, like those at luxury country house hotels Mallory Court and Burleigh Court, flaunt meticulously tended vegetable gardens, their menus proudly showcasing the day’s harvest. Guests who stay and dine at these wonderful Cotswold hotels, will get to degust a salad kissed with the sweetness of homegrown tomatoes or savour a dish infused with the fragrant herbs plucked just hours earlier in the gardens mere meters away from where they end up on the plates in front of them.

     

    Farm Shops and Cafes

    We have an absolute abundance of farm shops and cafes in the Cotswolds, all with shelves, baskets, and boxes laden with vibrant produce fresh from the surrounding fields, artisanal cheeses, loaves of locally crafted breads, and chutneys, oils, vinegars bottled just miles from where they are sold and subsequently enjoyed.

    Most Cotswold farm shops, The Cotswold Outpost in Burford and Jolly Nice near Stroud to name but a few, have cafes also, making them so much more than just pit stops for produce. The cafe kitchens are a testament to the magic that happens when fresh, local ingredients meet culinary passion.

    Now, this isn’t merely a story of delicious food and drink; it’s a celebration of sustainability. Local production minimises carbon footprints, supports biodiversity, and fosters a vibrant rural community. The Cotswolds is slowly turning the tide towards a more mindful food system, one where ethical practices and environmental responsibility go hand in hand with culinary excellence.

     

    Food Tourism

    Yet, amidst these triumphs, lies a crucial truth: awareness and support are key. Tourists and visitors to the Cotswolds have the power to become catalysts for change by actively seeking out restaurants championing local produce and engaging with producers directly. Every bite of a Cotswolds-grown strawberry or sip of locally-crafted wine becomes a vote for a more sustainable future.

    When tourists dine on Cotswolds-grown fare, their money ripples through the community, supporting local farmers, restaurants, and businesses. This creates jobs, strengthens the local economy, and fosters a sense of shared prosperity. So, it was never more important for us in the Cotswolds to promote the area for it’s produce.

    We’ve created a brand-within-the-brand, Taste of the Cotswolds, which puts focus on food tourism, local food and drink, local chefs, local produce, and local culinary initiatives. The Cotswolds is a foodie’s paradise, with a wealth of local produce, producers, and eateries. With the increasing awareness of the benefits of eating local, of sustainability, and saving on food miles, for our health as well as for the environment, we champion the culinary superstars of the Cotswolds. Local food is fresher and better for us, it has a lower carbon footprint, it supports the local economy, and it tastes much nicer. It’s a win-win-win.

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