Annabel Grant has loved cooking since she was little.
Growing up on her family’s farm in Wymondham, the table was always laden with treats, fresh from the oven, prepared using recipes passed down from generation to generation.
“I grew up cooking with my mother, my grandmother and my sisters,” she says.
“We are a real foodie family and as far back as I can remember there have always been hot cakes, scones and sausage rolls appearing on someone’s oven table.”
For the past eight years, Annabel has shared this love of baking in her quirky cafe and gift shop at Cavick House Farm.
Run from the farm’s old harness room, there’s a lovely outdoor area with picnic tables where guests can relax in the sun.
Or on rainy, cold days, they can warm up with one of their sumptuous specialty hot chocolates in a lovely, brightly painted cabana.
“I wanted to start my own business on our farm after being unhappy with my previous job,” says Annabel. “And I wanted to help more on the family farm after my sister and father were seriously ill.
“I loved visiting small, independent cafes and unique souvenir shops, so I thought about starting my own.
“We are very lucky to have a beautiful farm on the edge of the historic market town of Wymondham and I knew the location would be a great selling point,” she continues.
“We opened an honesty egg store in 2010 once we started producing our own free range eggs. So a cafe and gift shop seemed like the next step.”
Annabel is recently married to Tom and they have two dogs – a spaniel called Bella and a cairn terrier called Ted.
She ran a self-service tea and cake shed on the farm for a year before taking the plunge and quitting her job.
“I had been to many different freelance businesses across the country and loved how cleverly people remodeled small, unusual spaces like sheds,” says Annabel. “It was a simple and inexpensive way to provide seating for customers – and who doesn’t love a cabana?
“Our egg store was originally set up in an old painted wooden chicken coop, so painted sheds worked perfectly next door.
“My mum, Julie, and my grandmother Sheila ran a knitting business using our own wool 30 years ago and they served their customers tea and cakes in a shed in the same place as my café, so it really was like history repeating itself.”
There’s always a wide selection of mouth-watering sweet and savory homemade baked goods on the counter, including delicate edible flower scalloped sponges, brownies and scones, with gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options available.
And it’s a real family affair.
“The sponge cakes are based on my great-grandmother’s recipe, which is never wrong,” explains Annabel. “The shortbreads are made by my mother, Julie, and the brownies are made by my sister, Elizabeth.”
Be sure to sample Annabel’s scones, if today’s batch hasn’t already been purchased – they’re in high demand.
“I make a very popular cheese, a sun-dried tomato and olive scone topped with sea salt, that sells out almost every day,” says Annabel.
Ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible – some very close to home.
“I only use our super fresh eggs from our free-range hens, just a quarter mile from the farm and as much produce from our own farm as possible,” says Annabel.
There’s also an extensive menu of coffees, teas and hot chocolates (their wintry flavors include panettone, gingerbread and amaretto), sourced from David at the Coffee Express in North Walsham.
“I want to satisfy all my customers, so I offer moo-free coffees and hot chocolates made with oat, soy and almond milks,” says Annabel.
Additionally, the gift shop stocks cards, Swedish cookware, handmade pottery, note cards, edible petals, and tote bags from smaller designers and producers.
The café-boutique is open all year round from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday.
“At this time of year, the sheds are heated and very comfortable,” says Annabel. “My hours are quite short because I cook the rest of the day, help on the farm or fill our popular egg dispenser.
“Yes, an egg vending machine!” she laughs.
“We have 16,000 free-range hens. Our vending machine was the first in Norfolk and we have recently updated and moved it to our barn so we can sell more eggs. »
The eggs in pink boxes, with a small hand-knitted hat, are sold for a cause that is close to the heart of the family. Annabel’s older sister Charlotte sadly passed away a few years ago and a £1 donation goes to Brain Tumor Research for every box sold.
As well as chickens and pigs, the farm is also home to award-winning purebred Charollais sheep bred by Annabel’s sister, Elizabeth, and her fiancé Mitchel.
You may have spotted Elizabeth and Mitchel on an episode of BBC2’s The Farmer’s Country Showdown, which saw them heading to Melton Mowbray cattle market to sell four of their breeding rams.
And if you fancy a taste of farm life, you can even stay here – the Cavick House Farm caravan and motorhome site is open from March to October.
To learn more, visit their website at cavickhousefarm.com or follow them on Instagram and Facebook for more.