Favourite Things: Whirlow Hall Farm shop and cafe manager Shauna McKnight appreciates the city, the people and her job
Originally from Texas, Shauna McKnight moved to Sheffield almost three years ago to live with long time and long distance boyfriend, Rob Waitt, who is now her husband and co-worker at Whirlow Hall Farm Trust. She manages the farm shop and cafe. He is the head of retail and catering.
Where I work
Every time I walk up the lane into the yard to unlock the farm shop door and start setting out the veg and meat, I think: “Is this really my job?” Of course, it’s hard work, but it is incredibly rewarding, and I believe in the ethos of the organisation I work for. It’s such a varied job, from picking raspberries for a local restaurant, managing a wonderful team of dedicated volunteers, choosing the best local producers to fill our shop shelves, showing school kids how to eat fresh peas, helping a customer to find that perfect piece of meat, to helping the farm team round up escaping cattle. I was vegetarian for years before I started working here. Here I know exactly where my food is coming from. I can go up to the pigs or chickens and say: “Thanks!”
Standing at the top of Psalter Lane, I’d like to take a picture about every two weeks to track the seasons. Maybe I appreciate it more because living in Texas you don’t see the seasons change as clearly.
I love walking through this little row of shops. I live just above this spot and it feels like I’m in a cheesy American film (in a good way). I see the butcher in his red-striped apron carrying some fresh meat for the sandwich shop next door. Then he waves to the girls at Midgely’s greengrocers on his way to Amy at Pure Enough. Everyone seems to know each other, and they support each.
I have to specifically mention Snap Deli at Banner Cross. We see Chris most often, but his mom and assistant, Isabelle, are always there to give you a smile and share a fun story. This is, of course, when they’re not busy cooking up some fresh and delicious food.
Although I’ve only been here twice, I love this place in Queens Road. I think it used to be an old flea market, but was abandoned for ages. Sarah and her husband refurbished it as a cafe, yoga studio, office space, workshop, gathering place, etc. When you go into the cafe it’s like being in their house, which you are. Sarah makes these amazing traditional Icelandic cakes.
Monsal Head Viaduct:
This is only one of my favourite places in the Peak District. We stayed at a B&B right across from this spot for our honeymoon (I hate that word). We went for a walk just before sunrise to find sleeping swans in the pond and spiders’ webs draped in dew. It was very magical in a subtle sort of way.
a Favourite Person?
This is going to make a lot of important people in my life very angry, including my husband! Lee Mangles, the creative chef at Silversmith’s restaurant! There I said it. Each week he comes to the farm shop to collect whatever we have that is in season for their menu. He always brings his carrier bag and a pair of scissors with him because we let him raid our herb garden. He even forages for moss and nettles. He has a love for food and creativity that it so contagious.
Parkway Fruit and Veg Market
I don’t think people realise it is open to the public. This is where true, traditional Yorkshiremen still run the show. I go before sunrise to get the best local produce that we can’t grow on the farm. I always expect to be greeted with an ‘Ello Flowa” or a “Mornin’ Sunshine”. You can get the most amazing deals on wonderful fruit and veg.
Sheffield Ashtanga Yoga
At All Saints and Seven Hills School where I completely shut out all distraction and stress. It’s just me and my mat.
A great place to find obscure documentaries. We took the entire farm shop staff to watch Food Inc. What a great way to provide staff training, and when people ask ‘Why should I shop locally and spend a little more on food?’ this will tell them!