Local produce made locally by local people

Over the last couple of years we’ve been increasing the range and availability of locally produced foodstuffs that go well with a nice slice of bread. We’re proud to say this is now a significant part of Loaf’s business, and one we want to grow further once we move into the new building.

Supporting local producers is obviously a good thing, but it also ties into Loaf’s belief that we should know the origin of the food we eat. When Jacky delivers her jams we can ask her about them; we hear how the bees are getting on and how the weather is affecting the honey; we talk to Pip about how she’s developing her new sauces. And of course we only sell things we would use ourselves, so you know they’re of high quality.

The following are four core ranges which we think would make great gifts. Please consider buying local this year!

Six pots of honey

We stock honey from three local apiaries. Arden Forest is south of Redditch, Quinton Meadow is from the south-west edge of Birmingham, while Rea Valley is from hives along, well, it’s in the name, and you can’t get more local than that.

A row of Pip's hot sauce bottles.

Pip of Pip’s Hot Sauces continues to expand her range. The new Brewed collaboration with Attic is proving very popular and there’s not one of these bottles that doesn’t have its fans.

Six packs of Marshalls chocolate

One of the newest additions to our shop, Marshall & Co‘s chocolate is made in Bournville, but not by a multinational corporation. Unlike most chocolate producers, they work with the actual cocoa bean and take care to preserve all the flavour. And look out for their delicious chocolate tea, made with the “waste” bean husks.

And then of course there’s Jacky and her various jams and preserves. These have flown off the shelves all year and it’s been a real Loaf success story. We will be getting restocks right up to Christmas.

Jacky uses locally grown and foraged ingredients that are in season and cooks everything up in her Redditch kitchen. While there are some standards, we never know exactly what she’s going to deliver. What follows is a snapshot of what’s on the shelves this week.

Jacky's Jams - eight jars of varieties of jam
Jacky's Jams - eight jars of varieties of marmalade
Jacky's Jams - eight jars of varieties of chutney


Congratulations to Rea Valley Apiary!

We popped along to the Birmingham Beekeepers show at Winterbourne this weekend and happened to catch the awards ceremony where Sharif Khan – whose Rea Valley honey we stock in our bakery shop – won nearly all the awards! Here he is with his haul.

With hives in Stirchley and along the river Rea, Sharif’s honey is as local to Loaf as it gets – there’s a good chance the bees have feasted on nectar from your back garden – and we also stock his borage and heather varieties.

So long and thanks for all the honey, Gareth

If you’re a long-time patron of Loaf you’ll remember when we only stocked one local honey from ‘G Francis’ and might be wondering when they’ll be back on the shelves. After many years of beekeeping and supplying honey to the local shops, Gareth has decided to retire. Thank you for your service, Gareth!

Rea Valley bees on tour

Most of the bees looked after by Rea Valley Apiary live, as the name implies, along the River Rea, which includes Stirchley so if you have a garden there’s a good chance there’s nectar from there in one of those jars. This produces a their polyfloral Local Honey — a mix of whatever flowers are in bloom when the bees are active — and its flavour is a reflection of our area.

But there are areas where one particular flower will dominate, and beekeepers will often take a colony to forage and produce a monofloral honey with a distinctive colour and flavour. Rea Valley took some of their bees out of the city for a change of scene and we’ve taken delivery of two of the subsequent monoflorals. Borage Honey from borage fields in Stratford and Heather Honey from moors in the Peak District. Enjoy!

Introducing Quinton Meadows honey

We’re always looking to stock new local spreads and condiments so we were delighted when a new honey supplier got in touch. Quinton Meadows Honey is run by George and Sue Jackson whose hives are based in Quinton, on the edge of Birmingham. Their bees collect nectar from the Quinton Meadows Nature Reserve, Woodgate Valley Park, the local allotments and urban gardens — all of which provides a mix of rural and urban blossom.

George likes to think of their honey as ‘one year in a jar’, as the honey is harvested just once in August, creating a unique amalgam of all the flora in the area.

Sue gave us a sample jar to try and we loved it, so we’re delighted to add it to the shelves.

George with his hives

New honey!

We’ve been looking for more local honey suppliers for years and at the recent Birmingham Beekeepers show at Winterbourne we struck liquid gold with not one but two apiaries!

Arden Forest Honey is a family-run business in the ancient forest of Arden with 40 hives pollinating wild flowers and local farms. We’re starting with their standard Wildflower honey but hope to expand the range if there’s demand.

Rea Valley Apiary could not be more local. Started and based in a back garden on Cartland Road, the business manages small colonies across south Birmingham. The current batch we have on sale is from the Stirchley hives, so if you have a garden locally there’s probably pollen from your flowers in this honey.

Both of them should be able to supply us with decent quantities over the year so along with Gareth’s honey we should always have the sticky sweet stuff in stock. 🐝

New food events coming up

There’s a couple of new food-related events coming up in South Birmingham that I thought it worth bringing to your attention. They’re both featured on other blogs so I will just link you up…

First up it’s a special bank holiday Monday farmers market and vintage fair at Rowheath Pavillion (a hidden gem) in Bournville. Check out all the details on bournvillevillage.com

Secondly, this years Birmingham Honey Show has moved venue to Martineau Gardens (even more hidden gem) in Edgbaston. Even if you only go to see the gardens it’s certainly worth the visit, but there’ll be lots of honey on offer too presumably. Details on the Martineau Gardens website.


The Beez Neez

Went to the Birmingham international food fair on Wednesday evening. It’s a city council sponsored event organised by a French company, the first of what the council are hoping will be an annual summer event to replicate the popularity of the Christmas market.

I was on the hunt for locally produced food and found a great honey producer from Kingswinford (12 miles west of Birmingham), the Beez Neez. They sell a range of honey’s from lavender, to lime flower, to acacia, all around £3-4.

The best thing was that the bee keeper was also selling on the stall and very keen to offer an education in honey with every jar. I went for the lime flower honey, and it definitely has a noticeable citrus tang to it. If I can find some local stockists I’ll add to this post.