New farm shop and café to open in place of kitchen garden school near Honiton

PUBLISHED: 15:29 04 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:04 05 July 2019

The Helliwells at Heron Farm. Picture: Heron Farm

The Helliwells at Heron Farm. Picture: Heron Farm

Archant

A farm shop and café will open in place of a former kitchen garden school once owned by an acclaimed food writer.

Heron Farm in Weston. Picture: Heron FarmHeron Farm in Weston. Picture: Heron Farm

Peter and Christine Helliwell have snapped up Heron Farm - previously known as Otter Farm - - nine months ago after it was put on the market by Mark Diacono.

Heron Farm, in Weston, was named in honour of a heron that is frequently seen on the River Otter.

The new eatery will offer 'picnic packs' to take away and consume on-site and cream teas served in its walled garden, recently redesigned by James Alexander-Sinclair.

The cafe will feature a 'five-mile menu', meaning items use ingredients sourced within five miles of the site and home-grown produce at Heron Farm.

The couple's business plan said: "We hope to be able to run demonstration cookery events in the café, to encourage people to come to the site and learn about some new ingredients and/or techniques while they are here."

The Herald reported in 2016 how Mr Diacono, former head gardener at River Cottage, had set an ambitious fundraising goal of £60,000 to transform Otter Farm into a food learning centre, boasting a cookery school, winery and shop.

The site comprises around 17 acres, including a 3.5 acre vineyard.

The fundraising began after he started the project without the entire budget in place.

Mr Diacono put Otter Farm on the market last year, along with his wine-making business.

An application submitted by Mr and Mrs Helliwell said the existing shop, winery and cookery school were left 'unfinished and vacant' when they purchased Otter Farm.

They said: "Without the skills or expertise to continue the use of the building for its original purpose, the new owner intends to continue the life of this architecturally interesting building through the change of use to a farm shop and café."

Mr Helliwell revealed more applications are in the pipeline as he looks to introduce glamping accommodation at Heron Farm.

The couple also intend to build an interactive playground and a smallholding area where customers can get up close with hens, pigs and goats.

The plan said: "We aspire to use our unique site to foster an appreciation of good and healthy food, and the possibilities around growing your own food, amongst the general public."

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