Hidden Gem - Lin's Veg Shed, Whitchurch-On-Thames

Lin’s Veg Shed, which is based at the Tolhurst Organic Partnership, off Hardwick Road, sells seasonal produce grown on the estate.

They offer drinks, salads, cakes and soups to passing walkers and cyclists over the year with a self-service farm shop.

The business is named after Lin Tolhurst, who came up with the idea last summer and who jointly ran the community interest company on the Hardwick estate with her business partner Iain Tolhurst, their daughter Rose and Mr Tolhurst’s wife Tamara.

The farm had been running a similar venture from a makeshift barn since 2013 but she wanted to set up something more permanent so they launched a crowdfunding campaign in October which raised £8,450 in less than two months. She died suddenly in November, shortly after the appeal hit its target, so the family decided to carry on and make her dream a reality. Mr Tolhurst, a builder, built the timber-framed shop and it started trading in February 2019.

It is situated near the gates of the Hardwick estate, where the farm is based, and is managed by Rose’s sister Eugena. Customers pay by putting banknotes in an honesty box or leaving small change in a dish for others who need it.

It has a lighting system powered entirely by solar panels on the roof, allowing people to shop in the evenings.

The farm, which grows more than 100 varieties of vegetable organically and with no animal produce such as manure, replenishes the shop after harvesting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Ms Tolhurst, who lives on site, visits several times a day. At the moment, a small number of its products come from other organic farms as the shop is experiencing the “hungry gap”, a period in which the previous year’s crops are running out and others are yet to replenish it.