The Midlands Food Bloggers community are keen to seek out fabulous local producers and support them wherever possible. This is something we have in common with brown and green, the food store at Trentham Estate near Stoke on Trent. I discovered the store last year and have been hooked ever since. Every visit I find something new to try and discover great producers right on my doorstep that I never knew about.
Last week I met with Susie, one half of the couple behind the venture, and found out how brown and green came to be and their plans for the future. Here’s a little of what I learnt.
Susie, a farmers daughter, had a dream. The dream was a little farm shop selling great local food and drink, including the strawberries and apples grown by her husband Euan at their home in Gloucestershire. In 2007 the dream became reality with the opening of a shop at what is now Three Shires Garden Centre. Then in December 2007 when the garden centre was bought out by Blue Diamond Susie and Euan feared it might be the end of their dream. Instead the dream was to get bigger, as the corporate giant proposed a partnership; they loved the philosophy behind Susie and Euan’s store and so brown and green was born and the Trentham store was opened in April 2010.
Their aim to stock as many local products as possible, whilst still providing a range that enables a complete shopping experience. Susie selects each product line carefully and has spent the past year scouring Staffordshire and the neighbouring counties for the best local producers. From local cheesemakers like Staffordshire Cheese Company and Brock Hall Farm goats cheese from nearby Shropshire (a personal favourite of mine) to brewers like Lymestone Brewery and Freedom. Where a local producer isn’t available, the next best thing is chosen, to ensure you can purchase all you might need for a meal.
brown and green also care how each of the products are made and grown and look for high standards in animal welfare, care for the environment and people. Indeed, the people behind the products are very important to brown and green, and where possible Susie works closely with them to ensure the products, packaging and marketing is right. For example, with an abundance of chutney and jam makers within the region, Susie worked closely with The Kitchens at Horsley to create some unique products.
The passion for the human element of the products is enhanced by the regular tasting events that are held in store, where you can meet the producers and try the products before you buy. There’s hardly a week goes by without something going on in store and if you want to keep up with the latest news you can sign up here or follow on twitter and Facebook.
Susie is a truly passionate foodie, and her enthusiasm is certainly infectious, as you may notice by the staff at the store, who are always really welcoming and friendly, and full of advice on the products. Back in December choosing my Christmas cheeseboard from the deli was so enjoyable and it was all prepared for me to pick up just before the big day.
Now there is a second store open with Blue Diamond at Derby Garden Centre, Little Eaton, and Susie and the team are now busy searching Derbyshire and surrounding counties for more fabulous producers. You can read a review by fellow MFB member The Butcher, The Baker here.
brown and green is not just a food store, it’s a foodie’s dream, twice over. Not only has Susie’s dream become real but for every foodie in Staffordshire, it’s the answer to all our prayers – a store that brings together all that is best from the region.
By Louise of Comida y Vida
Thanks to Susie and the team for a warm welcome as always for both me and Baby G and I’ll be back soon.
Update: now if you thought this post was a full of praise due to a blogger’s desire to be nice (cough cough AA Gill!) then don’t just take our word for it – brown and green has won the West Midlands Deli of the Year and is therefore one of the top 10 deli’s in the country and could be crowned number one at the Great Taste Awards in September. We all have our fingers crossed!
Well done Susie and all the team, so proud to have you as a friend of MFB .