Perhaps one of the country’s most well-known farmers and a familiar face on our TV screens, Jimmy Doherty’s story of how he set up Jimmy’s Farm on the Shotley Peninsula has been well documented in the BBC series of the same name, which was filmed over ten years ago.
Since then, the farm has gone on to become a popular visitor attraction with an award-winning restaurant and holds several major events each year. Jimmy and his wife Michaela took some time out of their busy schedule to chat with Nichola Adams.
Growing from a small business raising rare-breed pigs to the sizeable venture it is now, which employs in the region of 40 staff, has raised the profile of the village of Wherstead on the Shotley Peninsula where the Farm is situated.
“When we first saw the farm it hadn’t been touched in 20 years. Rather than be put off, I could see the potential in the landscape and I wanted to bring it back to life and use the land the way it had been for all those years,” said Jimmy.
“Our ethos when we started was to farm sustainably and provide people with good quality, British meat. As time went by, more people took an interest in what we were doing and making it accessible to the public seemed the natural next step, so we set about opening the Farm Park.”
The Farm Park is open 364 days a year and provides a fantastic opportunity for the public to get up close to the animals and have a hands-on experience of British farming. Jimmy explained: “It’s a real pleasure to see people, especially young children come in to the farm and ask questions, feed the animals, explore the woodland walk and learn about the British countryside. It’s what we’re all about. The local community have been amazing in supporting us. Right from the start when we had the butchery in an old out-building, we’ve had regular customers who’ve bought in to what we’re doing and have been alongside us the whole way.”
The addition of an award-winning restaurant housed in a renovated 17th century barn, ensures that the ‘field to fork’ experience is firmly on the menu.
“Renovating the barn was special for so many reasons,” said Michaela. “It brought this amazing structure back to life. The high ceilings and ancient beams certainly seem to hold their own stories which you can almost feel when you’re in there. If only they could talk! It’s exactly what we envisaged, looking out over the paddocks to where our pigs are raised, watching the chefs harvest the vegetables we grow within metres of the kitchen door and then serving it up to people who want to experience the taste of Suffolk is pretty special.”
Jimmy’s Farm has come a long way from the trials and tribulations documented in the BBC television series, and Jimmy often takes stock of just what’s hidden away in this sleepy corner of Suffolk.
He said: “At the end of the day, when the visitors have gone, I’ll walk around the beautiful ancient woodland, listen to the birdsong and watch out for some of the amazing wildlife we have living right here at the farm and remind myself where it all began. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to see all those visitors from far and wide come and see us, but that’s what we love. That’s why we all work so hard on the farm. It’s in a magical spot and we just want to share it.”
Jimmy’s Farm is a working farm with rare breed pigs, a nature trail, woodland walks, gardens, farm shop, adventure play area and beautiful new restaurant and Joules shop.
Farm Shop & Farm Park: Daily 9.30am – 5pm (except Christmas Day and during some events – please check before travelling).
Jimmy’s Restaurant: Every day 9.30am – 4.30pm. Also available for evening private hire.
Monthly Farmers’ Market: First Saturday of the month.
Jimmy’s Farm, Pannington Hall Lane, Wherstead, nr Ipswich IP9 2AR
T: 08444 938088