A family-run farm shop and café, which is celebrating five years in business, is looking to expand as its popularity continues to grow.
Oakes Farm Shop, based in Balsall Common, opened in 2013, turning a long-term dream into a reality for owner Gary Oakes and his family.
They had farmed the land for several generations but had first toyed with the idea of diversifying their farming business on the back of suggestions from loyal customers who had been buying home-produced eggs on site for many years.
The family’s farming history goes back almost a century and with the help of accountancy firm Burgis and Bullock, they took the step of building on that side of the business with a shop and café five years ago.
Now the Oakes Farm Shop is the sole business focus for Gary and his wife Jayne, who rent out their farming land to a neighbour.
Gary said: “The shop has essentially grown from an honesty box placed on the edge of the farm to our main focus.
“We were talking about making the leap for a number of years before actually doing so and five years later we are in a position to look at expanding, the whole operation is just growing and growing.
“We have been working with Burgis and Bullock for 30 years and they helped us take that step forward, so their support was crucial.
“Over the next 12 months we want to expand our café area and are drawing up plans. We have a growing customer base with local people, and those who visit from Coventry, Kenilworth and the Leamington area.
“We work with local producers, support rural business and have grown to employ 35 people from 10 when we began.
“We have taken it step-by-step and while we are no-longer hands-on farmers, our land around the business is still farmed and actually produced lamb for our butchery business.”
Currently the café area, which was designed by Jayne to mirror the rustic surroundings of the site, seats 84 people and is usually at capacity on weekends.
In recent months, the garden area, where customers can enjoy their food while taking in the views during the summer, has been expanded, and the car park has been resurfaced.
Trevor Day, who heads up the client services department at the Leamington Spa and Stratford offices of Burgis and Bullock, said: “Oakes Farm Shop is a perfect example of a farming family diversifying their business and moving with the times.
“They have a wonderful site, excellent facilities, great products and are well known and respected in their community.
“With Brexit looming, the majority of farmers are looking to diversify their business to insulate against the impact of reduced subsidies. I could not think of a better example than Gary and his family.”