Big new South Downs drive-up deli
So, the garden centre at Hassocks has had a big extension. No, WAKE UP this is about food – a huge new deli in fact.
The barn-like addition called the South Downs Heritage Centre has been filled with various elements including, I kid you not, a small lawnmower museum, but the main event as far as I’m concerned is what they’re calling a ‘food hall’.
Stuff that ‘no pudding till you’ve had your dinner’ rule as the first thing you see here are chocolates and cakes looking all bespoke and lovely – like the kind of thing you’d give as a present or take to a dinner party if they lasted that long.
There’s a big cheese counter too, posh ready meals, an interesting dried pasta selection, traditional drinks from sloe gin to ginger beer and heaps more.Strangely most exciting of all for me were the contents of one of the freezers. When I visit my parents in Devon I stock up on the frozen ‘raw’ cinammon swirls, croissants and pain au chocolat that their local farm shop (which has a whole continental thing going on) gets from France, so I was glad to find the same thing more locally. The pastries are handy to have in the freezer for unexpected guests and times when you decide you deserve something a bit more indulgent than muesli for a weekend breakfast. Though note, some types have to be left out to prove overnight.
Local producers at South Downs Heritage Centre include ethical choclatiers Cocoa Loco, High Weald Dairy, Silly Moo Cider and the Ditchling sausage company. I didn’t notice much of a Sussex emphasis on the packaged products, instead they seem to have picked quality produce from across the UK. I noticed some well regarded local brands from my parents’ way for instance.
In the same hall as the food is another new area with art, homewares and the like for sale. Which on my visit veered from a bit tourist shop to more stylish products like these.
The Heritage Centre (which is free to enter) also includes a gallery and a florist and is described as a ‘work in progress’ with artists, makers, foodies and educators involved, so look out for workshops and more. There’s also a coffee shop next door.
It’s on the A273 Brighton Road past Hassocks, not far from Burgess Hill and handy if you’re visiting the pretty villages of Hurstpierpoint or Ditchling, or you’re heading up onto the Downs and need supplies.
The South Downs Garden Centre itself is large and there’s a daily fruit and veg stall outside the main entrance and butchers and fish stalls on weekends. There’s even a decent pet shop area inside, which will keep children amused for a while, with rabbits, birds, fish, snakes and more.
South Downs Heritage Centre, South Downs Nurseries, Brighton Road, Hassocks BN6 9LY, 01273 847707, southdownsheritagecentre.co.uk