Host farm proves to be luxury treat for NOC team

Date Published: 12/07/2012

Last week saw our fifth annual National Organic Cereals event. You can read the formal summary here. But there’s a whole lot more to putting on such an event than getting everything set up, welcoming your guests, feeding and informing them and then waving them off at the end of the day.

Farm walk at National Organic Cereals 2012
The farm walk and crop trials

The detail to be dealt with is tremendous and it’s a testament to our small team that they can pull off something like this, year after year. It’s become a firm fixture in the organic farming calendar and long may that be the case.

There is months of preparation involved, which starts just days after the previous event with a thorough assessment of the feedback forms we ask people to fill in. Thank you to everyone who did that, because we really do take it all on board. Once again this year they are overwhelmingly (in fact, almost exclusively) positive.

With all the advance planning in place, our modus operandi is to turn up in force (that’s usually six or seven of us…) the day before, to oversee the set up with all of our suppliers and the host farm. This year our hosts were mother and son team, Sarah Worrall and Jimi Collis, both of whom have been enthusiastic regulars at our past events, so it was great to have them so central to this year’s National Organic Cereals.

Normally the pre-event night sees the team staying in a pub or hotel within about half an hour or less or the venue, which then requires us to be up and out very early the next morning. This time, however, we were in for a real treat!

Launceston Farm, as well as being a large and well-run farming business, is also a very high quality B&B, with Sarah at the helm. The rooms are sumptuously and individually decorated and furnished and wherever you turn are fantastic pieces of art. In our rooms we discovered organic tea and coffee (with organic milk fresh from the fridge, of course) and delicious home made biscuits.
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Work done for the day, Sarah went the extra mile to feed us a superb three-course meal in her beautiful dining room, the highlight of which (for the meat-eaters among us) was her own-recipe goat tagine, made from the meat of goats Sarah raised herself. So good it made its own appearance in the Waitrose Magazine recently!

Depressingly familiar for the team is the notion that we’ll be up too early for breakfast at most places we stay. In the past we’ve grabbed what were effectively lunch bags with sandwiches in, made the night before, on the way out. It’s not the nicest way to start a long day…

So, if you complete this phrase, “BLANK as pigs in BLANK”, you’ll have some idea of how delighted we were to fill in our little individual blackboards the night before to request a hot breakfast of the finest local ingredients, which Sarah was quite happy to serve for us at 6.30am (EDIT – as a very generous special consideration, it should be noted!).

Launceston Farm is an amazing place. For us it was a luxury just to be staying on-site and so wonderfully looked after in beautiful accommodation, but it has everything to recommend it as a perfect bolt hole for anyone seeking a change of pace.

It’s also a superb example of a diversified farm business that has identified its market and focused on delivering a quality (and award-winning) experience. We know there are a number of varied examples of this happening among our licensees – but we don’t usually get to experience those first-hand!

Jimi and Sarah worked hand-in-hand with us to make the latest National Organic Cereals a great success and they were the perfect hosts. So we must record our grateful thanks to both of them and to the rest of their family.

We’d also thoroughly recommend a visit to Launceston Farm – and we’re not alone: Loving Dorset Blog; Daily Telegraph; The Guardian.

See all of the pictures from the event itself on our Flickr set, here