17 April 2024
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Barnhill Farm: a unique slice of rural life in Renfrewshire

on 18 December 2023 0

Barnhill Farm continues to evolve on a near daily basis, we speak to Managing Director Wendy Holmes to find out more…

Some businesses are content to rest on their laurels, while others are eternally striving to reimagine what they do and evade any boundaries that they might have foreseen in the past.

Fifteen years into its existence, Barnhill Farm more than fit that bill. Born from owner James Mackie’s previous business, this dream project which was founded on prioritising fresh, high quality food has continued to expand ever since.

“James owned this site and building, so after he had a wee honesty shop up the back, he decided he wanted to keep going on and it’s just grown arms and legs from here,” reflected Managing Director Wendy Holmes.



“We’re now a really family-friendly operation, which is great. There’s an indoor kids area, a crazy golf course, a soft play bus and a covered sandpit too, as well as giving wee ones a chance to feed the animals. 

“We’re not out in the middle of nowhere, but we’re not too close to the town either,” Wendy said of what makes their operation so special. “There’s lots of kids who haven’t had a chance to experience anything like that, so it’s good that they can experience a taste of what that life is like. It is very rustic, you get out there, put your wellies on and get on with it. There’s a real life experience, as opposed to anything polished or too sterilised.

Barnhill Farm

Joe, Barnhill’s master butcher, photo by Sean Michie ©Mill Magazine

“In terms of recent additions, it’s safe to say that it’s been all go at Barnhill. From aligning with veterans of their industry to collaborating with other like-minded businesses, many of the new changes revolve around providing an alternative to all the modified produce that we’re often accustomed to. 

“The latest introduction to our shop is Joe, our new butcher,” she enthusiastically declared. “He’s an absolute craftsman and master of his trade, as he’s been a butcher for 59 years. He served time as a butcher in Brechin Brothers in Glasgow from age 15 before moving on to Munro’s and then James McDowall in Paisley where he worked for 18 years. After working for The Boneless Beef Company for five years, he decided to go self-employed and he’s described that as his best move ever. 

Barnhill Farm

Photo by Lauren Campbell ©Mill Magazine

“He actually had a shop in Johnstone Castle, but he wasn’t getting much footfall and was mainly doing wholesale,” she continued. James met him and asked if he wanted to come up to Barnhill and Joe basically bit his hand off as he wanted to get back to dealing with the public. 

“So, he joined us at Barnhill and he’s enjoying himself. Joe already feels like he’s part of our big family. He’s such a nice man and he loves a blether, as well as so many stories too. For him, it’s so important that everything is fresh.

Barnhill Farm

Photo by Leana Donegan ©Mill Magazine

“I think that’s something that’s really important to people,” she said of the unique selling points that Joe affords. “Obviously, we’re all used to buying meat from the supermarkets which is pumped full of water. It’s all stuff that you don’t even want to think about, but, Joe is all about the farm to fork process and that’s something that we’re really trying to achieve. 

“He’s taken our pigs, highland cows and Hebridean sheep. So, that means they’ll go straight from the slaughterhouse and then directly to the butcher counter. Now, he’s providing all of our burgers and sausages for our cafe too, alongside our wholesale fruit and veg company that’s in-house and provides everything else we need. 

“Everything’s from on the farm, we try to use as much local or Scottish produce as we possibly can.”

Barnhill make their own fresh ice cream using local milk, photo by Sean Michie ©Mill Magazine

This isn’t the only amenity that plays into their homegrown ethos, as they’re just invested in high quality dairy as they are their meat. 

“We’ve got a milk machine in the shop which dispenses frsh milk that comes from High Branchal Farm, who are less than 10 miles from us here at Barnhill,” she revealed. “We go and pick it up from there every second day and it’s actually multi-purpose because we use it to make our own ice cream too. 

“We’re fully kitted out with a Carpigiani ice cream maker and pasteuriser. After getting the last of the Scottish strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, we made it into a jam or compote which was then vac-packed so that it can be used to make our ice cream. Again, there’s no pastes being used that are full of additives, it’s just fresh fruit that you’re tasting. 

Restaurant, photo by Lauren Campbell ©Mill Magazine

“We’re trying to be as environmentally friendly as we can, as well as supporting local businesses,” Wendy declared of their plans. “It’s a difficult time right now and everyone’s struggling, so we’re just trying to do our bit and hopefully, that’ll reward us somewhere along the line. A new winter menu is launching at the moment.

“Over time, we’ve gone from a burger van to a full commercial kitchen that uses fresh local produce and meat that’s coming straight to you. That’s the direction that we want to go, it’s just all about letting people know what good food is. We’re also trying to bring in schools for trips to get them familiar with pasture-fed food. It’s all natural and fresh, with cattle and sheep that have been reared in the field.”

Photo by Lauren Campbell ©Mill Magazine

On top of all of the cuisine on offer, Barnhill Farm has a lot more where that came from. In keeping with the season, they’ll even be selling one of the essentials for a truly authentic time by selling real Christmas trees with stands as well as potential for a Santa’s grotto. The details are still being firmed up at the moment, so be sure to check their social media for further information nearer the time. 

A working environment built on a solid foundation of hard graft and genuine love for what they do, Wendy believes that it’s that spirit of everyone mucking in where needed that helps them achieve so much. 

“We’re all part of a team here,” she contended. “I might be one of the directors, but there’s times where people have said ‘why are you washing dishes Wendy?’ And that’s because that’s just what’s required at that time. That’s how we all approach it.” 

To keep up with everything that’s happening, follow them on Facebook as Barnhill Farm or visit the website.

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