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Talking Farm Shop - Little Town Farm Shop

Celebrating 50 years since the beginning of the farm, Little Town Dairy now employs three generations of the same family, Julie Hallett and daughter Nicola run the farm shop on a daily basis. Alice Singleton reports.
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Catch up with #Lancashire based #farmshop, Little Town Dairies!


  • Name: Little Town Farm Shop
  • Location: Thornley, Lancashire
  • USP: Home-reared Aberdeen Angus beef

Family business

Julie: This year celebrates 50 years since the farm was set up, but it does not feel right celebrating too much without dad...

He was the driving force behind everything. My parents Matt and Eileen Forshaw started the farm in 1965 with only a few Holstein Fresian cows delivering on various local milk rounds which extended to hospital contracts. Shortly after, in light of issues with the milk quota, they took the plunge and went into yoghurt making.

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We got the yogurt contract before we knew we could actually make it...

Days of practising on the hob at home, using different techniques, is where we found our niche. From there, the farm and dairy grew together. Now at this stage, we have three generations working throughout the farm, dairy and farm shop, which opened 11 years ago.

The farm shop was opened primarily for my youngest daughter Kate...

to make sure she always had somewhere to work and be part of the family enterprise. My eldest daughter Nicola, 23, works in the shop, and Emily, 22 helps out at the weekends, while spending weekdays in her full-time job as a vet.

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The farm is run by my brother Mick and his two sons Nathan and Joe...

while Mick’s wife Janet works in the office at the dairy, and my sister Alison and her daughter Laura work there as well. My husband Peter helps in keeping everything running at the farm shop and tearoom, being the general handyman and also helping Emily with deliveries at the weekends.

Keeping it local

Nicola: My dad always says ‘keep it a true farm shop’...

All our food is sourced locally as much as possible, and this is what we feel the farm shop is all about. We could get big industry names involved, but if it isn’t local, it isn’t what we want. The full range of our yoghurts is available in the shop and we sell milk from a dairy down the road, as all milk we produce goes into making yoghurt. Everyone who works for us are friends or local people who help keep a sense of community spirit within the overall business.

We provide services in cutting and packaging meat for local farmers, as long as Henry Smith is around...

Henry is our resident butcher, who makes all the sausages sold in the shop and even works on-farm on his days off. Beef sold in the farm shop is all our own and lamb is a combination of our home-reared and Bowland lamb. All pork sold is locally sourced.

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Our turkey chicks have just been delivered...

for us to rear and sell as bronze free-range turkeys at Christmas. Scary to think the festive season will soon be here.

Best Seller

Julie: We pride ourselves on the flavour of our home-bred Aberdeen-Angus beef...

All our beef is hung for three weeks and used to make our own pies and meals, as well as cuts being sold in the shop.

Aberdeen Angus

Farm shops have a bright and positive future...

despite competition from supermarkets. People are continuously cautious about what they are eating and have a thirst for knowing where their food has come from.

We feel the personal touch has diminished from supermarkets...

with most customers dealing with electronic machines rather than someone they can talk to at a checkout. This is where farm shops take over. A friendly face and home-reared food, what could be better?

We could buy cheap meat elsewhere, but this is not what we are about...

All our produce is kept at a fair price, because if we look after local farmers, they will look after us.

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Nicola: People come back for our sausage rolls and pork pies...

Keeping up with the demand for them is a struggle. We found people like to have ready-prepared food to save time when they get home from a busy day. To compensate for this, we started making healthy ready meals where customers can be confident everything used is home-made, home-grown and home-reared. We sell lasagne, chicken kievs and stir fries, as well as BBQ meats and pies, all made by my grandma Eileen.



My fondest memory of everything is my dad...

He was so proud of everything on the butchers counter and really pushed the farm shop when we opened 11 years ago. He would walk into the shop and find 10 things wrong before he could get to the other side. He was proud of everyone and everything and always made sure everything was perfect.

Testing times at the start encouraged us to never give up...

We did not want to charge outrageous prices, so we expanded the business to ensure there were plenty of avenues to bring money in. Within the farm shop, we sell firewood along with animal feed and bedding for poultry, horses and domestic animals. We also deliver gas canisters to local villages at the weekend.

Nicola: We are going to host more evening events to bring local people together...

So far, we have had a cheese and wine night and a BBQ night, which went down well, and are looking towards a sausage sizzler or curry night in the near future.

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Take Home Tips

  • Keep everything local where you can
  • Encourage people to look around the farm
  • Support local farmers and they will support you
  • Do not grow too fast; grow comfortably
  • Look after everything you are doing
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