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There's exciting times ahead for Folk Café owner Ali Barker

Folk Café is entering one of its most exciting years as the past six months of planning are finally coming to fruition. Folk Farm is launching its first year of operation with an emphasis on sustainability, sourcing its own locally-grown food and developing a deeper relationship with the community. We aim to pioneer a new area of the business that marks our stance on having an even ‘greener’ approach to creating exceptional dishes.

This year, our café commences the first season of its newly-established no-dig farm, which will feature a variety of locally-grown food, including vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible wildflowers. The farm will work with nature (rather than trying to control it) by encouraging beneficial pollinators to increase the area’s nearby biodiversity. All of this underpins our mission to lower our carbon emissions and reduce food miles.

In addition, we’re also focusing on the financial benefits of growing your own food through simple methods such as lowering costs from seed saving and rainwater capture. As we want to maximize the crops we produce and minimize any food waste, any supplemental crops will be put to good use by creating a produce stand at the café. Why not drop by to have some food, a delicious coffee and then grab some groceries for tonight’s supper (especially with peace of mind knowing that everything was grown within less than 15 miles)?

Folk Farm produce (55343234)
Folk Farm produce (55343234)

In terms of the structural layout, the initial 300m2 of our self-designed farm blurs the lines between edible florals and food, with plenty of room for expansion. With the addition of a polytunnel, we hope to extend our growing season for year-round harvests in the cooler months, as well as delicious tomatoes, aubergines and peppers in the summer.

Indoors, we have two 2.5m x 2m indoor tiered grow rooms where all of the initial seedlings will be housed before being transplanted to the farm field. Microgreens will be grown here, as well as plans to potentially grow mushrooms in the future. Finally, we have four large outdoor kitchen garden beds that we use as a ‘trial area’, where we experiment with growing new produce that piques our interest at the café, but isn’t quite ready to go into the field.

One of our main goals at the café is to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables, which is reflected in the monthly menus available to hungry customers. Our Folk farmer Matthew Hassan collaborates with myself and our kitchen team to plan the menu around seasonal produce up to a year in advance. This gives our staff plenty of time to trial new dishes and make sure we’re serving the best that Suffolk has to offer. As the farm continues to develop and become more established, the ultimate goal will be to eventually become fully self-reliant on the food that we grow. Whilst we understand this is ambitious, we know that sustainability and environmental initiatives are important now more than ever before as we continue to see signs of climate change.

Folk farmer Matthew Hassan (55343237)
Folk farmer Matthew Hassan (55343237)

Externally, we also want the farm to feel like a warm and welcoming place for anyone interested in volunteering. Because research has shown that farming, gardening and participating in outdoor activities improves your mental health, this is an excellent opportunity to bring the community together in pursuit of a common goal. Taking this a step further, we hope to have engaging courses where we use farm produce to make delicious dishes such as chutney from the unripe tomatoes in the polytunnel, or possibly ‘Poor Man’s Capers’ from the seeds of our surplus nasturtium seeds.

As the farm continues throughout its first growing season, we hope to bring part of the farm to the café near you. Guests can hopefully expect to eat in the relaxing Suffolk countryside, be around their family and friends, and walk around an extension of the farm directly outside the café. We want to bring that beautiful vision of stunning flowers combined with fresh produce directly to your table to enjoy.

We have such an exciting future ahead of us and we can’t wait to bring you along. Follow our Instagram page @Folk.Cafe to join us on our journey. We hope you’ll come along!

Folk Café is at Fornham Business Court, The Drift, Fornham St Martin, Bury Saint Edmunds IP31 1SL

Visit www.folk.cafe