Egg Shed Farm Shop: How selling a few eggs has led to a quiet revolution on this Yorkshire farm

Selling a few eggs direct from the farm less than three years ago has led to a quiet revolution in the way brothers James and Peter Vickerton now farm at Grange Farm in Atwick, near Hornsea where they run a mixed enterprise of cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and arable cropping across 250 acres.

Egg Shed farm shop came about when Gemma, James’ wife, found that a neighbour who had been selling eggs was going to stop.

Gemma, having previously thought that it would be a good fit for the family, approached the lady concerned to make sure she was happy that they took on the idea and in November 2021 James and Peter put up the shed and the Vickertons’ new enterprise began.

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“As much as anything else, The Egg Shed has made us change the way we want to farm,’ says James. “We said we were going to do it on the Friday and over the weekend me and Pete scraped an area for parking, found a garden shed, we put the eggs in and were under way.

Grange Farm, Atwick, Hornsea. James Vickerton and Gemma Vickerton pictured with their children Charlotte and Harry amongst the 10 week old pigs  Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon HulmeGrange Farm, Atwick, Hornsea. James Vickerton and Gemma Vickerton pictured with their children Charlotte and Harry amongst the 10 week old pigs  Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme
Grange Farm, Atwick, Hornsea. James Vickerton and Gemma Vickerton pictured with their children Charlotte and Harry amongst the 10 week old pigs Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme

“We started with the eggs, and then gradually people started asking about boxed lamb. Me and my dad used to do a few boxed lambs and so we thought why not, let’s earmark a few lambs and have a go at springtime.

“I get bored at Christmas because you seem to spend too much time doing nothing. It was around then I saw some Oxford Sandy & Blacks in Selby livestock market and thought those would be interesting and that our daughter Charlotte would enjoy them. We bought five to begin with. We then had our own sausages and bacon available, as well as the lamb, and now our own beef.

“We started with our first lambs in the following March and our first half pig boxes in April/May. It all snowballed from there, and by August 2022 we were trying to do everything in boxes – half a lamb, half a pig, quarter of a pig, delivering sausages or people picking packs of sausages up from the farm on a night, but then it became apparent that people wanted to buy a joint of pork or a joint of lamb."

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The Egg Shed has become a regular visit for locals and the holidaymakers that just love the East Riding coast.

Grange Farm, Atwick, Hornsea. James Vickerton and  Gemma Vickerton, pictured with their children Charlotte and Harry.  Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon HulmeGrange Farm, Atwick, Hornsea. James Vickerton and  Gemma Vickerton, pictured with their children Charlotte and Harry.  Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme
Grange Farm, Atwick, Hornsea. James Vickerton and Gemma Vickerton, pictured with their children Charlotte and Harry. Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme

“We get a really good holiday trade,” says James. “We’re very blessed that we have big holiday parks like Skirlington. Hornsea’s population triples in summer and those who come to the holiday parks have been absolutely brilliant for us, they are very positive about supporting local businesses.”

Gemma says that such has been the success of The Egg Shed and the Meat Store that they also now also stock other local Yorkshire produce.

“We keep it all as local as possible. We have chutneys, jams, sauces, oils. The oils and dressings come from Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil in Thixendale; a lady in the village makes the jams and chutneys with every sale going to Atwick Church; we get honey from Bay View Bees in Hunmanby, from the same chap who we bought our Hereford bull from; and we’ve started selling small bunches of flowers.”

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“The Egg Shed is open all week, from eight in the morning ‘til eight at night,” says James. “And what we call the Meat Store, where we converted an old building and have a couple of freezers and a fridge, is open Saturday (9am-1pm) and Sunday (9am-midday) or by appointment. We get a lot of people text us and pop down at a teatime on a weekday to get bits and pieces.”

James says that he, Gemma and Peter are all really chuffed with the way it has gone so far and that it has brought about a real change to the way in which they farm.

“Ironically, we’ve almost gone back to what it was like when I was younger, almost full circle. In the past we have tried to compete by having acres of arable, but we have some marginal land that is far better as grass; and we have tried to compete with sheep numbers and cattle numbers; but in the end we are coming back round to being a traditional mixed farm.

“We are finding that people like coming here to a real working farm, meeting me and Gemma and Pete and seeing the animals in the yard and meet the kids.

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“Pete has been involved with the farm longer than me and he plays an important part here. He’s seen more of the highs and lows of it, and he’s really opened up to people coming on to the farm. When we do a stall in Hornsea Market once a month Pete will look after the shop.”

Grange Farm has 110 acres of arable cropping this year with 20 acres of spring beans and 90 acres spring barley; 100 acres of grass; and 40 acres in environmental schemes through wild bird cover.

“When people say they’ve got heavy land, we’ve got real heavy land,” says James. “But we’ve also got some good land. The past year’s weather has been challenging but our spring beans are looking good and we can average between 2 to 2.5 tonnes of spring barley.

“We’re three years into an ELS scheme and are in the process of applying for the new SFI looking at things like clover to stop reliance on bagged fertiliser.

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“We have 20 suckler cows and followers all going to the Hereford bull and we are aiming to put 12 a year through the shop. We lambed 55 ewes this year and all lamb will be predominantly finished off grass and sold through the shop and we’ll be keeping all our replacements. We’re using Lleyn and Texel tups.

“Our 4 Oxford Sandy and Black sows produce average litter sizes of 10 twice a year and all of their progeny is going through the shop as pork, sausages and bacon.”

James started out as a fencing contractor and that is all part of what the farm business includes today.

“I still go out fencing. It puts a backbone into the farming business. Pete is on the farm mostly, but we both give a hand wherever we need to. It’s all in together. I did contracts on building sites for many years but packed in last year.

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"I’m back to fencing for farmers, doing quite a lot at the moment for an animal park and lot of domestic fencing. I average 3 days a week on the fencing job, a couple of days and the weekend on farm. Pete and I have equal shares in the whole business and Gemma somehow manages to combine everything as well as looking after our young children Charlotte and Harry.

"Our stepson Taylor spent a lot of time helping here before getting a proper job. Pete’s daughter is Ellie. She’s at university.

“Our dad David passed away five years ago. He’d be immensely proud of what we’re doing and would have loved seeing so many buying stuff from the farm. The key for us is to keep moving forward.”

You can follow The Egg Shed Farm Shop on social media.

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