9 November 2015

PLACES: Farm To Table At Dean's Court




Heading to Dorset for a photoshoot, the last thing I would have expected was to find is a cafe practicing sustainable eating, with food served from the soil surrounding it, on the grounds of the picturesque estate on which was to take place.

The cafe is housed on an estate which was originally home to the Abbess of Wimborne, and dates back to the 8th century. After the dissolution of the Chantries in 1548 the Manor was granted to John Hanham, MP for Poole, whose descendants have lived there ever since.

There is something quite magical about this place, perhaps it is the silence of its surroundings or the aesthetics created by an abundant autumn, but like many locations I've loved in Europe, it holds a certain connection to its past that creates an indescribable creature comfort for the soul - of something forgotten but familiar. 

Amongst the acres of wise trees on the property is a kitchen garden which was the first organic garden in the England to be accredited by the Soil Association. The garden provides chemical-free produce for veg basket schemes and the cafe menu, as well as cut flowers for daily enjoyment.

The garden and greenhouse hold an abundance of vegetables and the trees in the orchard bloom brilliantly with fat juicy fruit. The warmth and vibrance of the colours springing from the various forms of vegetation on the estate creates a stunning allure. From the amber tones of falling leaves to the bright neons of unfamiliar flowers, a complete and organic colour wheel is created which is like nothing I've ever seen. 



Tucked just beyond the estate gates is their cosy cafe (and shop) which we were invited to have lunch in on the first day of the shot. We were greeted by citrus water pitchers adorned with edible flowers, freshly baked (mindblowingly delicious) bread, vegetable tarts, gorgeous green salad and their own homegrown apple juice served in repurposed wine bottles. Each item we ate came from ingredients grown less than fifty steps away. Delicious wouldn't even begin to describe the experience.










































The following day I uber fanned the owners embarrassing my fellow model as we begged for coffees at the cafe counter. My excitement grew when the to-go cups turned out to be compostable (there is a massive compost on the grounds too) which resulted in a fit of frustration directed at Starbucks et al. for their laziness and irresponsibility ... and my own (I had gotten a to-go coffee on the way down the day before, a bad eco-horrific habit I'm struggling to break).


I'd never before seen a functioning garden cared for by pleasant people in such a thoughtfully curated space. My childhood memories of my family's participation in Canadian co-op farming held a different sort of sentiment and I was invigorated by the inspiration Dean's Court and all its offerings ignited in me. 

If you ever find yourself near Poole, UK, I'm sure the folks at Dean's Court would be happy to see you, you can find more information on them online here and visit them in person at: 2 Deans Court Lane, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1E, United Kingdom.



*photo 4 (Andrew Urwin) & 7 (Dean's Court)

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