Ambitious farm shop scheme for Ote Hall to deliver local produce and jobs to the community

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Ambitious farm shop scheme for Ote Hall to deliver local produce and jobs to the community

One of the oldest family farms in Mid Sussex, which has been part of the Burgess Hill community for almost 500 years, will outline plans this week to bring a new sustainable shopping and dining experience to the local community.

The proposed Ote Hall Farm shop and tea room will put truly local produce on the town’s doorstep and create up to 25 full-time equivalent jobs on the 350-acre farm which currently employs just one member of staff.

Facilities will include butchery and deli counters, and offer craft drinks, fresh, frozen and pantry goods as well as weigh-your-own dry ingredients, providing an outlet for other farmers and food producers in the county. Up to a third of its products will come from within a 30-mile radius, and the farm will provide Ote Hall Sussex traditional grass fed beef, as well as pork, lamb, and game.

Accessed off Janes Lane or reached via an already well-used network of footpaths, the shop and tea room will be within easy walking distance of the town and Wivelsfield, close to Ote Hall Business Park. The Park was converted from redundant dairy buildings some years ago, not far from Great Ote Hall, a magnificent family home that is also now used as a wedding venue.

Carola Godman Irvine, who runs the business with her sons Matthew and Charley, said: “Ote Hall would not survive as a purely traditionally run farm without having already diversified into various enterprises. We see the farm shop and tea room as a natural way forward. Local people tell us that, despite being surrounded by some of the finest countryside in England, it is still difficult to track down home-produced meat, dairy and other high-quality Sussex foods without going miles out of their way for them. This project is not only essential to future proofing our farm for the next 100 years, but it will also provide a way for local farmers and food producers to find a wider audience. We are really keen to engage with our local community and would welcome feedback.”

Ote Hall has been mostly owned and run by the Godman family since the 16th century. Up until the 1960s it was famous for its prize-winning pedigree dairy Guernsey cattle. These were replaced with native pure bred Sussex beef cattle which are currently sold directly to farm shops, as well as local and London butchers.

The Godman Irvine family have close connections with the local community, regularly hosting the annual Wivelsfield Church Fete, and supporting the Better Together Christmas Day lunch in Wivelsfield Village Hall, which feeds approximately 100 people from surrounding villages, including Burgess Hill, Hassocks, Haywards Heath and Cuckfield. It is proposed to hold this event in future in the new tea room.

A percentage of the profits from the Ote Hall Farm Shop and Tearoom will be donated to the Godman Foundation. This is a new charity which will be established to promote education, training and mentoring of young people, including those with learning difficulties, in what will become a prominent hub of the community.

For further information: Otehall@gmail.com

Captions: Carola Godman Irvine and proposed farm shop sketch

https://pa.midsussex.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=QI4SOKKT0DH00&activeTab=summary

…End…    20 October 2020