Foodie Farms: Ludlow estate lures in local food lovers

When Ludlow’s top restaurants gained a sprinkling of much-coveted Michelin stars, the sprawling Oakly Park Estate looked to mirror these gastronomic gains.

A farm shop and café soon opened to highlight the meat and milk from the farm, with a focus on seasonality to try to emulate the success of the Shropshire town in putting itself on the foodie’s map.

Owner Robert Windsor-Clive says farming on the estate had been losing money for years so the farm shop, with a wide range of products, was opened in 2007 followed by the café and a recently renovated boutique inn.

Foodie Farms – the best of British farm food

Farmers Weekly’s food fanatics hit the road to sample the culinary delights of farmer-run eateries where home-grown produce is always the order of the day.

Find out more about the mission to celebrate the array of fantastic food produced in the UK on our Foodie Farms page.

Part 1: Foodie Farms in southern England

Shropshire cheese is now being revived on the estate after more than a century of neglect in the county, old favourites introduced, such as fidget pie, and unpasteurised cheddar cheese with its deep, intense flavour.

Robert Windsor-Clive © David Jones/RBI

Robert Windsor-Clive © David Jones/RBI

“The reputation of Ludlow saw a gastronomic elevation and we saw an opportunity to be part of this,” Mr Windsor-Clive tells Farmers Weekly.

The Michelin stars have now disappeared from picture-postcard town wrapped around the River Teme, but the eateries and shops now sell 50% of their throughput from the 3,200ha estate.

Milk and beef come from a 260-strong cross-bred dairy herd, lamb from its 2,500-ewe flock and pork from 88 Gloucester Old Spot sows, as well as venison and game from the estate, and fruit and vegetables from its old walled garden.

Farm facts

  • 3,200ha estate
  • 260-strong cross-bred dairy herd, includes Jersey, Montbeliarde, Viking Red, Friesian and Holstein blood
  • 457 beef fattening cattle from the dairy herd, top crossed with a Hereford or Limousin bull
  • 2,500-strong breeding ewe flock, largely North Country Mules but also Suffolk-cross, Lleyn and Texel, top crossed with Texel rams
  • 88 Gloucester Old Spot sows
  • Arable land growing wheat, barley, oilseed rape and maize

We headed for the Ludlow Kitchen café on an ever-expanding site behind the recently renovated Clive Arms Inn, with an eye to try the estate’s well-renowned beef and pork.

Meanwhile, an upmarket dining experience awaits visitors to the Clive Arms, named after Mr Windsor-Clive’s ancestor, the British soldier Robert Clive, who bought the estate after his military successes in India during the 18th century.

The Clive Arms

Mr Windsor-Clive’s father – the Earl of Plymouth – lives on the estate, while the café and shop in the village of Bromfield, on the A49 Shrewsbury road just north west of Ludlow, now houses a post office, bakery and butchery.

The food is modern British with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients, and includes old favourites such as red velvet cake with its chocolatey flavour and bright red sponge, and a ham, cheese, apple and mustard fidget pie.

The shop is claimed to have the widest range of products of any farm shop in the country, selling sourdough bread, its own in-house roasted coffee and a wide range of jams and pickles.

Tom Carr © David Jones/RBI

Tom Carr © David Jones/RBI

Farm manager Tom Carr is responsible for providing milk for the burgeoning cheese business, beef, lamb and pork for the shop, café and Clive Inn, with nearly half of the estate’s beef used within the business.

“We are aiming at sustainable, extensive, mixed farming, and looking to improve our soil fertility,” he says.

Menu at a glance

Menus at the Ludlow Kitchen café and Clive Arms change with the seasons, but expect to pay £9-£12 for a hearty lunch at the former and anything from £14 right up to £30-plus for the fillet steak at the latter.

The café's tasty Estate Plate © David Jones/RBI

The café’s tasty Estate Platter © David Jones/RBI

The philosophy at the café is great-tasting food that is accessible to all. We tried the Estate Platter with its cornucopia of charcuterie and cheeses allied to a pork pie and scotch egg, all for £12.95, and a moreish pulled pork bap with chips at £9.95.

Ludlow Kitchen café's pulled pork bap with chips © David Jones/RBI

Ludlow Kitchen café’s pulled pork bap © David Jones/RBI

All delicious – from the deep-flavoured pork to the wafer-thin beef bresaola.

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