In my little bit of Lincolnshire we are pretty fortunate to be surrounded by lots of farms, it is sort of what our county is famous for, and a lot of the farms sell their own and neighbouring producers wares in their farm shops. The farm shop has become a wonderful thing though, they aren't just a shack by the side of the road any more, they are fully fledged shops with tea rooms and trinkets to buy with your meat and veggies.
When I knew I wanted to make my own toffee apples this year, I decided to use local apples, and as our own apple tree had been a bit of a disappointment I popped along to my favourite of our local farm shops, Uncle Henry's.
In the middle of Lincolnshire farm land, Uncle Henry's is a little haven, it has a relaxed and cosy atmosphere and is the first place I head to if I want something a little bit special. They have such a wide range of stock, from gifts to food and drink and local ice cream, as well those special ingredients, that I never find myself leaving empty handed.
As you walk into the shop you are greeted by the produce man, proudly bearing the Lincolnshire flag, and then once inside there are always displays to suit the season, and there was a mix of halloween and christmas when I visited, lots of little trinkets for your tree that would make lovely gifts.
They stock a wide range of beers, ales and wines, and a selection of delicious non alcoholic drinks too. I love to pick up the Toffee Apple Juice, which is designed to be warmed up on a cold day.
As you walk past the freezers brimming with bake at home pies, pastries and frozen fruit and veg you come to the biscuits and breads, and you can always find some good old fashioned Lincolnshire Plum Loaf here.
Pop down the steps to the traditional meat and veg, with a wall full of locally grown and responsibly sourced fruit and veg, and deli counters full of fresh local meat and cheeses.
My favourite balsamic pickled onions and sweet stuffed peppers can also be found here next to the wall of oils, particularly the locally produced rapeseed oil, which gives us the famous yellow fields in summer time.
Around the corner is the majority of the dry goods, though you have to pass the biscuits and crackers first. They often have a special seasonal feature in this cart and this time it was cheese bakers, a perfect christmas gift.
You can't miss the jams and preserves, and they hold a variety of different brands, from a few more commercial ones to the truly local. I love these Cottage Delight ones because they are so dinky, I can get a few and not feel guilty!
The cafe hides around the corner but you can't miss the side full of cakes under their covers. Their chocolate cake in particular is absolutely gorgeous and they also do hot food and sandwiches if you haven't such a sweet tooth. Try the potato wedges, they are the best ones I have ever eaten. Ever!
If you haven't time to sit and eat, they do cakes to take home too, I do love a slice of carrot cake with my cup of tea.
They also have a wide variety of gifts from great homely brands and a few famous faces, such as Cath Kidston Mugs and the odd kitchen gadget too. Perfect for present ideas, I spotted these egg cups that I may just have to invest in for myself!
Don't worry, I didn't forget my apples, I picked up a couple of bags of Goachers Jonagold. they were delicious!
Do you use your local produce suppliers?