Cameron and Muriel Naughton have been rearing pigs for almost 35 years. We’re proud to say they were some of the first farmers in the country to sign up to RSPCA Assured. Read the full story of West End Farm.
Over that time, they’ve developed a lot of connections in the industry and have become well-known suppliers of pork products. So it was with enthusiasm and maybe a little trepidation that, at the start of 2022, they decided to take a leap into the unknown and open their own farm shop.
The Naughtons wanted to sell their own products locally, but more than that, they wanted to create a hub in the community. Something that was more than just a shop where customers could buy fresh local products like sausages, bacon, eggs, veg, and honey; they wanted a place where people could come together to enjoy homemade cakes (courtesy of Muriel’s baking skills) and relax together.
What made you decide to open a farm shop, Muriel?
“It was an idea that had been floating around in our collective heads for years, and we’ve finally decided to make it a reality. We wanted to create a community hub where people could come and buy local food.”
Who runs the shop?
“For the moment, it’s mostly me”, Muriel says. “Things are still quite small, so I can pretty much handle them by myself with a bit of Cameron’s help but hopefully next year, we’ll be looking at taking on more staff.”
What does The Piggery Farm Shop sell?
We sell our own sausages and bacon which are both RSPCA Assured and our own lamb and eggs. We use two butchers, both local, one is a small family-run business that has been making sausages for us for years. They make our famous West Ender sausages which are 95% meat and our much-coveted dry-cured bacon.
Much coveted bacon?
“That’s right, they’re a small butcher, so we only send off one pig at a time. They make some sausages and some bacon, it’s dry-cured bacon, and it takes several weeks before it’s ready. As soon as we get it, it sells out quickly and customers just have to wait until we get some more in. It seems strange to fly in the face of market demand like that and people are often confused; they’re so used to going to supermarkets and finding everything they want without ever having to wait. But that’s not how it works here. I like it. In a way, we’re educating our customers as to how food is produced. Smoked bacon takes time, in the past everyone would have known that and accepted that.
We also use a slightly larger local butcher who produces a range of flavoured sausages for us. We’ve got pork and apple, honey and chorizo, Cumberland and Saxon sausages.”
What else is available at The Piggery Farm Shop?
“As a community farm, we’re trying to offer a range of local products. Take a look around and you’ll find organic milk, beef, honey, vegetables, cheeses, chutneys and preserves. Our plan for the moment is to source everything from farms and producers within a twenty-mile radius of the farm.
But that’s not all. I also bake a selection of rustic biscuits and cakes, known as the Naughton But Nice range. There’s a piggy-shaped ice biscuit, a coffee caramel and raisin cake (Muriel Naughton, 2022 - copyright pending), our newly added chocolate and blackcurrant cake, the gingerbread slab (no time for cookie cutters in this farm shop) and, of course, an ever-popular Victoria Sponge.”
What makes The Piggery Farm Shop different?
“The Piggery Farm Shop is on a real working farm. It’s situated in a beautiful area, making it ideal for sitting back and relaxing with a cup of coffee as you enjoy a cake and the fresh air. Well, that depends on the day a bit”, Muriel chuckles. “If you come when we’re mucking out the pig, you should be prepared for the fact that the air might not be quite as fresh as it could be. Although, no one’s complained about it so far and we like to think it adds an element of authenticity.”
What can visitors see when they come to the farm?
“There is always something to see when you come to The Piggery, currently, the paddocks by the shop have sheep and donkeys, with farm cats Boris and Percy 'working front of house' and loving all the attention.”
How has it been for you opening the shop and running it?
“It’s been great. Difficult but great. I’ve had to learn so much, so quickly, there is a lot of paperwork involved with running a shop but I'm used to dealing with the paperwork for the farm so I'm sure I'll soon get the hang of it. On top of that, there’s the labelling, stock rotation, price setting, and so much more.”
Is it worth it?
“Definitely. It’s hard work but it’s also rewarding. We’re growing a local community centre here and I’m thrilled to be a part of that. I can’t wait until we’re ready to move into our permanent location, which will hopefully be by Easter 2023.”
So, where is the shop now?
“The ideal spot for the farm shop is obviously the old cart house, which has been used as our general storeroom for as long as we can remember. It’s a beautiful building with all the old panelling from when it was a stable still intact. It’s going to take some work to get it ready, but when it is, it’s going to look beautiful. Opening the shop was a bit of a risky venture for Cameron and me, we’re more accustomed to the sty than the food counter. So instead of going all out, we decided to start small. So for the time being, The Piggery Farm Shop is located in a converted shipping container.”