I have followed the progress of Humble by Nature since my days as an officer with Monmouthshire County Council.
At a time when the County Farms Unit was reviewing the number of farms and small holdings which it owned, Upper Meend Farm, in Penallt near Monmouth, came vacant.
Rumours began to circulate suggesting that Kate Humble was interested in buying it and establishing a rural skills school.
Gradually the plans came to fruition, and Humble By Nature was born - offering a range of classes and courses including Animal Husbandry, Small Holding and Wood Fired Oven building. Indeed on our visit a small group were actively involved in Dry Stone Walling.
We were there, however, for the latest part of the development the opening of the Farm Shop and Café.
Kate and her team have gathered together some superb local products, and we are lucky that South East Wales has more than its fair share of Great Taste Award winners. From Liz Knight’s foraged foods to Graham Waddington’s Native Breeds charcuterie and Halen Mon Sea Salt the shop is a foodie dream.
I was very pleased to see both Angharad Underwood’s PreservationSociety jams and pickles including the epic Candied Jalapenos and Rhian Short’s range of Usk River chutneys, Tudor Brewery ales and beers, Calon Wen organic cheeses and butter and possibly the most local product Wye Valley Cheese made on the adjacent farm. The shop reminded me a little of Wright's Food Emporium, though without the Continental Selections, and seeing a display of Wright's Tomato Catsup reinforced that feeling.
As well as Kate’s own books the shop stocks a number of publications aimed at getting you to produce a little yourself, even if you only have room for a grow-bag or a couple of pots.
Most of the items sold in the shop are used to make the delicious meals available in the adjacent café.
A wide range of teas and coffees are available, and the coffee roasters and tea blenders have also made the bespoke House Blends for Humble by Nature.
Breads are by Alex Gooch and they taste as good as they look.
The menu is seasonal, changing monthly, and offers a good choice of light meals, mains and desserts.
We opted for the Pulled Pork Sandwich which came on toasted Sourdough - which had a malty taste- and was accompanied by a small salad with edible flowers from the Edible Garden next to the shop,
and the Farmers Lunch. That would have fed a very hungry farmer indeed! Two thick slices of ham, Wye Valley Cheese, A small frittata, Beetroot, chutney and jelly with huge hunks of bread filled one plate whilst a salad covered the other.
All made to order in the kitchen the food was superb and just what you would need after a morning on the farm, or indeed a good shopping experience! The mains were so filling that , despite the desserts looking and sounding delicious, we could not manage one.
The shop and café will become destinations themselves, as well as the range of courses and events on the farm.
Humble by Nature has come a long way since inception and will develop further.
Already though it deserves to be called Local and Great.