I recently visited Oakes Farm in Balsall Common. (www.oakesfarmshop.co.uk) I had read in the newspaper that the family farm had recently opened a shop and cafe and, as I’m always looking for new tea rooms and cafes, I was keen to pop along.
The cafe was easily accessible off the main road between Balsall Common and Knowle and there was enough parking for about 15 cars. It is very clear that this is a new development, as it looks unfinished, but I have high hopes for where it could be in a year or two’s time.
The shop and cafe are in the same open plan building and, while the shelves of the shop looked somewhat bare, there was a good selection of produce in the farm shop. Meat, fruit and vegetables, cakes, pies, jams and preserves. A lot of this was locally made or locally sourced but, as you’d expect, prices were high.
At the southern end of the building was the cafe, with large windows overlooking the surrounding countryside on two sides. To the west I could see the tower blocks of Birmingham and above is the flight path to Birmingham airport. However, I do not see this as a problem – it’s more of a novelty, and plane spotting with children could be fun. There are a line of pilons to the south, which can’t be helped but spoil the view of the lovely countryside. A waitress told me there are hopes of constructing a patio or decking on the south side of the building in time for summer and I can see this being a real bonus. The outside seating would be directly accessible from the car park, with a door from the patio to then access the cafe. I am really looking forward to spending an afternoon on that patio when there is an impressive skyscape to be seen, as I am a cloud-spotter and the patio will boast unobstructed views of more than 180 degrees. Let’s hope they choose some comfy seating!
The menu in the cafe was simply and reasonable in value. They do everything from breakfasts to snacks, light lunches and afternoon teas. I also saw some evidence of catering for different dietary requirements.
While I’m sure some would think this place was nothing to write home about, I would urge people to see the potential of this farm shop. Once established, I can see it being a good attraction in Balsall Common, and I am already planning to get the O.S. map out and devise a walk that incorporates a visit to Oakes Farm. It has my support and I wish the people behind the venture well.