FOR the Best Farm Shop judges were interested a farm shop selling locally produced food direct to the consumer.

The finalists are: Court Farm and Leisure, Oakchurch Farm Shop and Pengethley Farm Shop.

Court Farm and Leisure at Tillington Court Farm is built by their loyal customers that return to their farm shop, markets, and buy their produce from other outlets.

Nicola Gilbert said: "We have seen many generations of families that consistently love our produce and remain extremely happy customers.

"Cherries are a particular draw to the farm in June/July, with a huge following. Patrons travel as far as Birmingham and South Wales for what they describe as the best cherries ever."

2018 is their 40th year of producing fruit and vegetables. They started with just peas and beans to complement the many fruit PYOs around Herefordshire. Whilst they have disappeared slowly over the years, Court Farm has continued to grow, adding more and more varieties of both fruit and vegetables, and now reaching more than 40 different varieties.

They added a farm shop a few years later, also selling local produce including cakes, ciders, jams etc.

They are extremely proud that 90 per cent of total sales is still their own grown produce.

In 2000 they started to attend Farmers' Markets and now attend on average three to four each week, along with a few food festivals each summer.

Oakchurch Farm Shop in Staunton-on-Wye sells beef and soft fruit from their own farm.

Nick Price said: "Oakchurch started off with humble beginnings - selling pick-your-own strawberries in the early 70s.

"As time went on we started selling beef from our farm and other soft fruits like raspberries, gooseberries and cherries and evolved from a wooden shed to a purpose-built farm shop with greengrocer, butchery, food hall with deli and cafe/restaurant."

They sell more than 90 local food and drink producers

Staff are always encouraged to interact with visitors in order to create a community feel, whether it be a tourist visiting for provisions while staying nearby or one of the locals that calls in several times a week.

Nick added: "Most of our team have successfully completed NVQ or apprenticeship training and this includes two of our butchers who have completed the scheme and one who is just about to start.

"Once a week we hold a team meeting to familiarise everyone with the seasonal produce and to give everyone a chance to see what we are selling.

We have a great ongoing relationship with our local primary school, village hall and other local worthy causes."

Pengethley Farm Shop in Peterstow do their very best to promote local produce and to support local businesses in this current uncertain economic climate.

James Hughes, from the shop, said: "Our ethos is to provide high quality produce, local where possible and promote these to the wider community through social media and in-store with regular tasting days for artisan producers whose knowledge of their products is invaluable to staff and customers alike."

He first took the shop over in 2012 and they have experimented with the layout of the shop until they now feel the current layout gives the best customer experience.

They have also increased their ranges of special dietary requirements.

He added: "We have increased our lines of local ciders, beers, wines and spirits. We have developed the butchery side of the business which enables the customer to have freshly cut joints to their requirements.

"We also make our own award winning sausages, burgers and faggots.

"In the new year we will have rebranded the business and hope to go forward with new eco-friendly packaging wherever possible. We are continually striving to improve all aspects of the business."