Friday, 11 March 2016

Turf roofed Motorway service station Gloucester.

Turf roofed Motorway service station Gloucester.
Wow such an improvement to your normal motorway pitstop.
Is promising that it will host no chain coffee shops, fast-food joints, gambling machines, or – that most curious of motorway rest area attractions – driving video games.

Instead the service station, owned and operated by a family firm, promises to be a showcase for artisanal products and will be working with 130 suppliers based within 30 miles of the site and another 70 from the wider south-west of England.

If not a gastronomic destination in itself, it will at least be a place where the fan of good food will not be horrified by soggy chips, mass-produced coffee and chain-store sandwiches.

The project also has a charitable arm called Gloucestershire Gateway Trust to make sure the business provides good jobs and to plough money into local social regeneration schemes.

It already claims to have created new jobs for 150 people, many of them from the more deprived areas of Gloucester, which were specifically targeted by recruiters. The service station will donate a percentage of its profits to the Trust – an estimated £10m over 20 years – to spend on community projects

Sarah Churchill, who will supply the jam she bubbles in a copper pot in her Gloucester kitchen, said Britain's motorway travellers deserved more than what was provided at most services. "I remember holidays in France where you would be wide-eyed at the food on display at service stations. It's very different in general here."

The chance to supply the service station is a huge boost for the likes of Churchill, a one-woman operation who was this week celebrating a gong for her
Blaisdon red plum jam, made with fruit from a traditional unsprayed orchard. "It's a real boost for me. They have told me they will be my shop window. Gloucestershire producers need this sort of exposure."

Deborah Flint, who runs Cinderhill Farm in the Forest of Dean with her husband Neil, will be supplying sausage rolls and pasties. She said: "We're a tiny farm, a smallholding, just eight acres.

"We have been selling at local farmers' markets so we didn't have much hope when we turned up in our battered old van with straw hanging out the back to show them our produce."

But the buyers liked what the Flints were offering. The pair have already taken on a new worker to meet demand and there has been a knock-on effect for their suppliers. "Lots of people are doing well out of this," said Flint.

The Gloucester services is intended to expand and develop the concept. It also looks strikingly different to other service stations, featuring Cotswold stone walls and a grass roof on its main domed building. There will eventually also be a lake and beehives so honey can be produced on site.

Its first phase opens on the northbound carriageway on Wednesday and work has begun on a southbound site.

While artisanal food is the main selling point, the service station also says it will offer hearty motorway restaurant staples such as fish and chips, pizza and steak and ale pies – but all produced freshly in one of the site's three kitchens.

Sarah Dunning, chief executive of Westmorland Family, said: "We believe proper food matters. So we serve it where you would least expect it – on the motorway. Local food shouldn't be considered the preserve of a handful of high-end shops. It should be at the heart of everything we make and eat."

The Parsnipship, a favourite at markets and festivals in the south-west, will be supplying food such as its
Briezy peazy pie "a marriage" of brie, peas and lemon with a nettle leaf pastry"

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