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A Cheshire Christmas at Hollies Farm Shop

PUBLISHED: 09:09 08 December 2014 | UPDATED: 18:01 02 November 2015

Decorating a Christmas tree in The Barn are Amy Jowett, Katie Dutton and Annabel Johnson

Decorating a Christmas tree in The Barn are Amy Jowett, Katie Dutton and Annabel Johnson

Archant

Looking for superb local food to impress diners this Christmas? The Hollies Farm Shop in Little Budworth is the place to go

Hollies Farm Shop staff; Amy Jowett,  Luke Johnson, Katie Dutton and Annabel Johnson by The (Christmas) Barn Hollies Farm Shop staff; Amy Jowett, Luke Johnson, Katie Dutton and Annabel Johnson by The (Christmas) Barn

Christmas starts early for the Cowap family. They own the popular Hollies Farm Shop in Little Budworth and Lower Stretton, so their Christmas planning and shopping starts in January.

Ed Cowap, director, said: ‘It’s a big job. We start going to some of the trade fairs and talking to some suppliers. Christmas is an important time and we want to make sure we get it right. It’s also a special time here and we have visitors who love coming here to get into the festive spirit.’

From October, The Barn at The Hollies in Little Budworth is transformed into a Christmas wonderland packed with seasonal treats. Sean Camm, who manages The Barn, spends a lot of time designing the displays and making this area look splendid for visitors. In the farm shop, the butchers are busy preparing turkeys and other meats and the shelves are stocked with some of the best food produce the county can offer.

Ed said: ‘People really love The Barn and it does look spectacular. We have mulling syrup warmed up for mulled wine and the smell in here is fantastic. We have local producers, like Jo’s Cakes who makes mince pies. Visitors get the opportunity to meet some of the locals who make the produce in our shop.

‘We have people who spend hours in The Barn, then have lunch in our café and look in the farm shop in the afternoon.’

The Hollies was first launched in 1959 by dad, Richard, now 81, and wife, Hilary, now 65. He sold fruit and vegetables and customers left their money in an honesty box. But when the box was stolen the family decided to build a more substantial place to keep their produce. Today, the Little Budworth site is unrecognisable from those early days. Several family members including Ed, brother Phil and his wife Mindy and sister Suzanne are all hands-on in the business.

As well as a large, successful farm shop, The Hollies’ chefs create in their on-site kitchen and there’s a butcher, a deli and the popular café, The Barn. The family also have luxury lodge accommodation, camping pods and a camp site. There is also the farm shop in nearby Lower Stretton. They have visitors from around the world to The Hollies.

Jan Heys works at The Hollies but is also a supplier with the deer she and husband Richard Reeves rear at Deer Park Farm.

Hollies Farm Shop; Ed Cowap amongst the Christmas goodies Hollies Farm Shop; Ed Cowap amongst the Christmas goodies

She said: ‘The Hollies is a fantastic place for local producers to showcase their stock. It’s certainly been very good for our business. The Hollies has a good reputation and people trust they will stock the best things.’

Bestsellers for the Christmas period include cakes and mince pies from Jo’s Cakes in Acton Bridge. But Mrs Darlington’s lemon curd is at the top of many people’s shopping lists all year round.

Ed said:‘Mrs Darlington’s is incredibly popular and is the product we sell most of. The food we make here in our own production kitchen is also among our bestsellers. What’s also good is that the food people eat in the café can also be bought in the farm shop.’

The Cowap family certainly do not rest on their laurels. Next year they are due to open a hotel in Aviemore, Scotland. Ed will remain based in Cheshire and his brother, Phil, will lead the new part of the empire. But they will always be dedicated to the farm shop they have all helped make the success it is today.

Hollies Farm Shop Christmas goodies in The Barn Hollies Farm Shop Christmas goodies in The Barn

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