Nolton Cross farmer Simon Thomas is, by his own admission, a food connoisseur.
Nothing but the best is acceptable to the beef farmer and this week his adherence to supreme quality produce has paid dividends after the Nolton Cross Farm Shop which he runs with his wife, Emily, was shortlisted for the regional finals in the Farm Shop and Deli Retail Awards which take place in Birmingham next month.
“We were only told this morning that we’ve made it to the finals,” Emily told The Herald.
“It’s a huge honour for us but we know that we wouldn’t have achieved any of this without the incredible quality of produce that the people of Pembrokeshire are producing all around us. And this is what helps to make our farm shop so successful.”
Simon and Emily first decided to open a shop on their farm in August 2020, after Simon wanted to gauge the public’s opinion on the beef that he was rearing.
“This was an opportunity for people to see the beef grazing out in the fields and then taste it on their plate,” explains Emily.
“And so we opened our first shop selling our beef, a few bars of Dilly’s chocolate, some locally produced jams and vegetables that we’d grown ourselves.”
The couple quickly realised that there was a growing number of people eager to buy quality Pembrokeshire produce and so, within 12 months, they opened a larger farm shop in one of their former farm workshops.
Eighteen months on, the Nolton Cross Farm Shop has officially become one of the best in Wales, after only three Welsh enterprises were selected for next month’s award ceremony.
The shop now sells a huge selection of produce, all grown or produced in Pembrokeshire, including fudge, chutneys, jams, meats, milk, cheeses, eggs, vegetables and oils.
“And this has always been our main ethos,” continues Emily, who is herself a farmer’s daughter from Dale.
“We wanted to showcase the best of what Pembrokeshire has to offer. And my goodness, it has a lot.”
Simon is the third generation to farm Nolton Cross, having taken it over from his late father, Phillip, who previously ran it as a dairy farm.
Meanwhile, despite their commitment to producing quality beef and running what is now officially recognised as the best farm shop in Pembrokeshire, Emily and Simon are already contemplating their next project.
“Yes, we’re extremely happy with the way that everything is working out, but we’re both people who are looking forward,” Emily added.
“So there’s a possibility of a tearoom and cafe on the horizon and hopefully, if all goes to plan, this will be operating very shortly.”
The Farm Shop and Deli Retail Awards take place on April 25.