Blackboys back on business map

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Two local families have joined forces to open a village café and shop that will provide a meeting space for residents and community groups in the rural village of Blackboys.

The Grove, which officially opened on February 11, is a partnership between Andrew and Emma Doherty and Sarah and Andrew Wright underpinned by a ‘local, fresh and ethical’ ethos.

Situated in a converted farm building at Brownings Farm Workshops on the B2102 in Blackboys, the shop and café will provide the local community with a beautiful, family-friendly space.

Open Monday to Friday from 7am-5pm and from 9am-3pm on Saturdays, The Grove will sell essential groceries including fresh bread from the Albion Bakery in Cross-in-Hand, meat from Bird-in-Eye farm in Framfield, ice-cream and milk from Downsview Farmhouse in Ringmer. Also on sale will be deli produce including Sussex cheeses and frozen seasonal ready-meals from local supplier Pink Cabbage Catering.

Meanwhile the café will serve cooked and continental breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas, seasonal daily specials and has a well-thought-out children’s menu.

The building is bursting with character with original beams, stone walls and sloping exposed brickwork. The owners have created a homely atmosphere with a wood burning stove, oak floor and hand-made shelving and display units, making it a very warm friendly place to be.

They say the closure of the village shop in Blackboys three and a half years ago and the local butcher’s last year had left a real void in the village.

Andrew Doherty said: “Losing them made a massive difference to the village. There is a real need for a warm and welcoming community-oriented space for everyone.”

Emma added: “We had an open day in November to show our plans and 250 people turned up. We’ve had some great feedback.”

The pair were able to turn their dream into reality thanks in part to a grant from the Wealden and Rother Rural (WARR) Partnership.

In the longer term, they plan to host holiday workshops for children and lunches for older members of the community as well as allow local groups to use The Grove as a meeting hub. Andrew added: “It’s good to give something back.”

The closure of the butcher’s shop meant more to local people than simply having to go somewhere to buy their Sunday joint. At the time the Express reported how families would meet up for a chat and socialise with neighbours. They now hope their socialising days are here again.