As viewers of Clarkson’s Farm on TV will be aware, the need to diversify has led many farms to open their own on-site restaurants and cafés to cater directly to the public. Here Ailsa Sheldon picks a selection of her favourite farm-to-fork venues across the nation

Spring is the perfect time of year for a farm visit, with baby lambs and chicks, spring flowers and, of course, the opportunity for feasting on all of that delicious farm-to-table produce in beautiful rural settings. 

Farm Ness  near Inverness

Family-run Farm Ness spans 3000 acres from Loch Ness to the edge of Inverness growing barley and raising cows, sheep, pigs, goats, geese, hens and bees. Farm Ness has collaborated with neighbouring farms to form Scotland’s first regenerative agriculture ‘Environmental Cluster’, with more wild flowers and ponds, hedgerows and trees. Visit the farm shop, open for the year from mid-March, to buy produce and locally sourced ingredients, including berries and cheeses, and coffee from Inverness Coffee Roasters. 
The burger van sells beef from the farm as takeaway burgers. Try a ‘Farm Ness Dirty Farmer’, with 18 hour slow roasted beef on a flatbread with all the trimmings. There’s also a popular kids play area with a ‘bale mountain’ and a sandpit for hours of imaginative games.

Balgove Larder, Fife

Balgove Larder is a popular hub for artisan food and drink just outside St Andrews. Set across a series of converted former farm buildings are a well-stocked farm shop, a garden centre, a florist and three places to eat. All the produce is sourced with as few food miles as possible. Head for the Steak Barn for 28-day aged steaks, burgers and sausages, all cooked on the wood-fired barbecue, and served with chips and beer battered onion rings. The meat all comes from the traditional on-site butchery. Or cosy into the café for East Neuk smoked haddock soup, Balgove sausage and mash or a Fife ploughman’s salad. In a rush? Pick up pies, pastries and hot drinks to go at Balgove Eat Out.

Dalmore Farm, Alness, Easter Ross

A family-run farm for 80 years, the farm shop and restaurant at Dalmore Farm opened in 2021. Located just off the A9 it’s the perfect stop for a journey north of Inverness. The restaurant is light and airy with floor-to-ceiling windows, and there’s a covered patio and garden tables. All have beautiful views of The Cromarty Firth, Black Isle and The Sutors beyond. Stop in for an all-day cooked breakfast with Grants of Speyside sausages and Dalmore free range eggs, or later in the day, soup and sandwiches, burgers and salads. 
The cake cabinet is always generously stocked and worth leaving room for. The youngest visitors can burn off some energy at the children’s farm and play park.

The Herald:

Fodder + Farm, Gartur Stitch Farm, Stirling

Fodder and Farm long table feasts take place monthly at Gartur Stitch Farm. The regenerative smallholding is run by Kat Goldin and Kevin Harrison on the Cardross Estate near Port of Menteith. On the farm Kat and Kevin grow vegetables, and raise pigs, chickens and goats. The pair also run workshops online and in person to teach traditional craft and food skills and share their passion for regenerative farming in a relaxed and engaging way. At the supper club experiences chef Lucy Pattinson cooks with ingredients from the farms, fields and forests around Gartur to create seasonal menus. 

Tickets include a cocktail (or non-alcoholic version), a farm tour then a multi-course meal “with food distance measured in steps and fields, rather than miles”.

The Free Company, Balerno, Edinburgh

The Free Company is a pioneering regenerative farm and dining experience, set on the edge of the Pentland hills near Edinburgh. Run by brothers Angus and Charlie Buchanan-Smith on their family farm, tickets for the seasonal dinner series’ always sell quickly. 
Guests sit at long communal tables in a converted byre to socialise and enjoy a set five course meal, while learning about the farm and the produce. 

On the menu are ingredients primarily from the farm, including lamb from the farm’s herd of Shetland sheep, pork from rare breed pigs and vegetables from the market garden.

It operates on a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ model: pay a minimal booking fee to secure your space and then pay what you choose at the end of the evening.

Loch Leven’s Larder, near Kinross

Channel of Pittendreich is a third-generation family run farm to the north of Loch Leven in Kinross-shire. Loch Leven’s Larder was born from the desire to be able to sell more of the farm’s produce locally while providing a family friendly place to visit and enjoy a meal. The farm shop and café opened in 2005 and has since expanded to include a restaurant, a deli, a gift shop and this year an interiors shop, 1848, too. 

The restaurant menus feature plenty of farm and local produce in interesting and delicious ways. Warm up with a bowl of Perthshire venison stovies with Channel Farm root veg, a rich herb gravy and a cheese scone; or try cauliflower rarebit with local beer and Lammermuir smoked cheddar.