I hope she won’t mind me saying, but at Valerie Voysey’s age, most women with a lifetime of farming and raising a family would be looking forward to putting their feet up and having someone bring them a nice cup of tea every now and again. Instead, Val has started a tea shop!
Furzeleigh Down Dairy‘s new farm shop & ice-cream parlour is a true family business, with daughter Liz making the ice-cream in their farmhouse dairy and daughters-in-law Elaine & Tracey working on sales, accounts and behind the scenes. The ice cream is made right on the farm, just down the track from the shop, and the cows can often be seen grazing the fields out the front, in front of the sweeping views over Axminster and the Devon countryside.
After losing their pitch at Charmouth beach, the family realised their mobile ice-cream sales could really take off with a proper venue, so Val set about creating the farm shop, with a nice wooden chalet where they sell their ice cream, teas & coffees, homemade cakes and a good selection of locally made crafts and produce. They still have the mobile sales too, visiting fetes, fairs and food festivals throughout the year.
The ice cream flavours go from the traditional strawberries & cream to more unusual ones such as caramelised fig or key lime pie, and an old family recipe called Mauritian Moka. The best seller is apparently their Devon Heaven, with no added flavour at all, just the creamy milk from their ‘Inspiration Herd’ of pedigree Fresian Holsteins.
Speaking of the farm shop, Val told me she’s been pleasantly surprised by how many walkers and cyclists she gets visiting, especially either visitors to or residents from nearby Raymond’s Hill. The cyclists love a good place to meet up and recharge their batteries, and the shop is right on Sustrans National Cycle route 2. It is easy to find on Cooks Lane, between Axminster and Raymond’s Hill, with parking and level access. It is open every day except Mondays, 11am – 5pm.
Upcoming events include an open day and hog roast in aid of the Air Ambulance and Flamingo Pool (on 21st May, 12 noon onwards), and they are participating in Open Farm Sunday on 5th June. Val is very supportive of local craftspeople, selling selected items in the shop and inviting makers and cooks to her events and networking meetings. In these days of constant uncertainty and price squeezes in the dairy industry, times are harder than ever for dairy farmers, especially on smaller family farms, so the family’s entrepreneurial spirit in finding ways to add value is a vital cog in the farming wheel.
It is still early days for the farm shop, but with increasing visitor numbers, more events and a burgeoning interest in local, ‘real’ food and traceability, it looks like Val will be getting even busier.