The long jubilee weekend was the first that I’ve spent outside of London since I moved down just over a month ago. While I’m sure the river pageant and all the jubilee events in London were very exciting, escaping the crowds for some countryside air was much more appealing to me. So, along with a group of friends, I went camping to Cirencester in the Cotswolds. The campsite was chosen by my friend Laura, and as chance would have it, without Laura knowing, the owner of the campsite (on an organic farm no less – http://www.theorganicfarmshop.co.uk/), also owns a block printing workshop near Jaipur in India employing two block printers who produce textiles for the on-site shop. So, as well as getting the opportunity to enjoy green fields, open air and barbeques with good company, I was also thrilled to see some beautiful textiles and meet like-minded people.
Hilary told me she had been working out in India for the last 30 years and she has been employing the two printers in Rajasthan for the last 21. Her eldest daughter played with Pritam Singh, the son of Faith and John Singh – founders of Anokhi, on early visits to Jaipur. Pritam is now director of Anokhi along with his wife Rachel.
All of Hilary’s production now uses organic cotton and low-impact dyes. This is in keeping with the strong ethos of the whole business. The farm is registered with the Soil Association label scheme, the campsite has compost toilets and showers that you pump yourself. The farm has won many awards (see http://www.theorganicfarmshop.co.uk/farm/) and they never turn people away from their campsite on a huge field with a vast view of rolling green hills. The cafe serves up the fresh organic produce in the form of yummy salads, soups, gratins and more vegetarian delights, tasty cakes and coffee (much appreciated after the mission of boiling water on a camping stove in the wind!).
Hilary once sold her textiles through a shop in Cirecencester, but has recently decided to reduce the size of operations, having lots more to take care of, and also realising that high quality, traditional textiles may have a better market in India itself, where there is a growing market amongst the burgeoning middle class. However, she did kindly say she would help me out if I wish to open a shop in London, something I may indeed consider, having seen her high level of expertise and strongly admiring the work she has done with the farm.
All-in-all, whether a textiles enthusiast, a foodie, a lover of the outdoors, or an eco-warrior, I highly recommend this lovely farm nestled in the Cotswold hills.