Tag Archive for: cafe

coffee cup

Opening the doors to our community groups

With a gradual and safe return to some sense of normality, we are delighted to announce that our community groups are able to get back up and running!

Over the years our Darvel Hub has played host to a whole range of creative, crafty, and cake-tastic groups! Inclusive and welcoming, we invite the Irvine Valley public to pop in and see what we’re up to. From social clubs to craft classes to handy breakfast stalls, our Hub will be a busy little place. From Monday to Friday, we will run our groups – new and old – from the centre of Darvel. And this is all on top of our continued work with FareShare and our emergency meal provision!

What’s Happening at the Hub?

Monday mornings will see us host Craft & Coffee, where you can enjoy a hot drink and some creativity in a relaxed atmosphere. We want the Hub to be somewhere that people can feel comfortable when meeting new and old friends. Our Soup Club on Wednesday afternoons will offer a similarly comfortable setting for a casual catch up.

Sometimes there’s no time for the kids to grab breakfast before leaving the house for school in the morning. And that’s where our breakfast stalls come in handy! Set up outside the Hub during the week, our stalls are stocked with healthy snacks and drinks that are easy to grab and eat on the way to school. Free and easy to pick up, we want the local school pupils to always have time for breakfast.

And it’s not just food groups that we will host at the Darvel Hub but health and wellbeing groups too. We will regularly be leading walking groups throughout the local area. A chance to get some steps in, take in your surroundings or just meet up for a gentle walk with others.

Pop in and see us!

We have our groups set up for those looking for something to do on a regular basis. But we will also have an open door at various points through the week. That way, anyone who wants to grab a tea or coffee, or would like to know more about what the charity can do, can come and have a chat. We understand that it’s important to make it as easy as possible for people to make a connection with us. To see what’s on, have a look at the Events page on our website, or keep an eye out on what’s posted in our window at West Main Street, Darvel.

and at Ayrshire Food Hub, Crossroads…

Meanwhile, at our new Hub at Crossroads, a variety of other community groups will be taking place. The Crossroads Community Choir have already begun their practice sessions and are keen for others to join. We will also play host to a number of groups and meets aimed at parents, professionals, and others within the local community.

Again, keep up with all the goings on by having a look at our Events page.

Our doors are open, and we look forward to hosting you all.

Morton's milk bottle

Morton’s Milk – “Producing high-quality milk for the local community seemed like the perfect fit”


Brand Name: Morton’s Milk

Name of owner(s)/manager(s): David and Gillian Morton

Product(s): Morton’s Milk

Location: Morton’s Milk Farm Shop – Auchinbay Farm & the Ayrshire Food Hub

For the creamiest scrambled eggs, frothiest cappuccinos, and silky-smooth milkshakes, farm-fresh milk makes all the difference. Morton’s Milk from Ochiltree, East Ayrshire, is home to 260 free-range dairy cows, milked three times a day, guaranteeing freshness and fantastic flavour. Established in 2020, this family business has succeeded through the pandemic, owing to a clear and close adherence to their belief that “quality is key”.

Morton's reusable glass milk bottle
There’s something vintage about a glass milk bottle

Tell us a bit about what you do

Morton’s Milk is a family run business situated in Ochiltree East Ayrshire. Situated at Auchinbay Farm, we milk 260 dairy cows, three times a day. Our cows are free-range and graze on lush green grass for around six months of the year. The milk produced is pasteurised onsite and is non-homogenised to give our customers a great taste experience. Morton’s Milk Farm Shop sells our semi-skimmed and whole milk through a self-serve vending machine system along with a fantastic range of fresh local produce and tasty, sweet treats.

How did the business come about?

As a family we have always been interested in diversifying. We live in the heart of the Ayrshire Milk field, producing high quality milk for the local community seemed like a perfect fit. As Gillian has worked in the food industry throughout her career, she has always been keen to open a farm shop. Combining farm fresh milk and locally-sourced quality produce was the perfect combination. Morton’s Milk Farm Shop then became a reality through our acceptance of a Scottish Leader Grant.

What traits have been essential to the success of your business and why?

Quality is key. Providing customers with our “Simply Delicious” semi-skimmed and whole milk along with selling the very best produce from local suppliers in the farm shop.

Morton's Milk vending machine
David at Ayrshire Food Hub with one of their vending machines and some fresh milkshakes

What is your daily work schedule?

The farm shop is open from 7am-9pm daily. Our cows are milked at 3:30am, 12 o’clock and 7pm. Pasteurisation of both whole and semi-skimmed milk is done daily and then placed in our milk vending machines at both our Farm Shop and the Ayrshire Food Hub Farm Shop.

What challenges have you faced?

Being a new business during the Covid pandemic provided challenges in ensuring both our customers and family were safe. 

What do you like most about what you do and why?

Providing high-quality products to the local community and receiving fantastic feedback from our customers makes all the hard work worthwhile. Morton’s Milk Farm Shop and our vending machine system are new concepts. Customer’s love shopping in a different way!

Milk vending machine at Ayrshire Food Hub
Gillian delivering milk first thing in the morning

How does Scotland or Scottishness affect your work?

It is key that the Farm Shop stocks the best of local Ayrshire produce, along with quality products from across Scotland. Currently we stock products from 26 Ayrshire suppliers.

What serving suggestions would you give to customers who have bought your product?

Milk is best served chilled.

Find out more about Mortons’ Milk and their amazing products at:



Community Work in The Valley

You might have noticed that we’ve been a little busier these past couple of months at the Hub. We have been keeping you up to date with all the news around our café and farm shop… but that’s not all we do. Our community work is the foundation of Crossroads Community Hub and Ayrshire Food Hub.

Things have changed since the days of one community worker at a time being allowed in our Darvel Hub to do all the cooking themselves!

What’s cookin’?

We have had some new additions to our community outreach team over the past few months. Joining Gemma S in the Darvel kitchen are Stacey – our Project Manager, and Julie – our new Community Food Worker. Stacey arrives with 20 years’ experience working in the charity sector and has led a range of classes in the community. As well as coming on board with ourselves, Julie will continue her work with Dementia Friendly Prestwick.

Gemma S has been with us for nearly 2 years now. She is a well-kent face who has held the fort at the Darvel Hub and delivered many a meal. This is the team that will be cooking and delivering the thousands of meals that we distribute throughout the Irvine Valley.

Nutritious and well-balanced, we design our selection of premade meals to be comforting and satisfying. Offering people proper meals throughout their week can really help take a lot of pressure off. We want to reach out to anyone who is in danger of becoming in any way isolated, or just those who could do with a helping hand.

Along with our emergency meals, we will be recommencing our work with Darvel Area Regeneration Team (DART). Together, we make up recipe packs that beginner cooks can pick up for free at the Darvel Hub. By encouraging people to prepare and cook meals from scratch we can improve cooking skills and knowledge of nutrition. As well as the recipe cards included in the kits, we produce videos for YouTube – for those who are more visual learners.

Continuing to work with our partners

Throughout lockdown, we have continued working with our partners, including the schools and nurseries in the local area. Part of this work has been the tending to polytunnels and growing beds – somewhere that pupils can learn the growing and harvesting process. We also extend our meal provision to places that families have easy access to – such as these schools and nurseries.

Our community outreach team is currently preparing classes to lead, centred around the growing, preparing and cooking of good food. Our aim is not just to be a supplier of food, but a trusted educational source. If we can deliver classes and groups that give people more knowledge of the food that they eat, it can help improve eating habits and add to cooking skillsets.

Project Manager Stacey delivering to Darvel Nursery

By offering classes and other forms of help that look at every aspect of food and nutrition, we think we have the best chance of reaching as many people as possible with our work. Once schools go back and restrictions are allowed to safely ease, we can really connect with the community around us. Whether you see our wee van nipping around town, or one of our team making their deliveries, we hope to become the known and trusted food charity that’s here to help.

Our first month in the café

The café’s first month has been a great success and we are busy with the buzz of customers.

The café reflects our ethos of supporting local, and we use plenty of our farm shop stock in our dishes. Our suppliers provide us with products that we are proud to use in the breakfasts and lunches we serve.

Our classically trained chef and his team take local ingredients and create special dishes such as our Ayrshire Eggs – soft-poached eggs, black pudding, and Ayrshire bacon on a toasted muffin, covered in a rich hollandaise sauce. Or the Chef’s Cut Cheeseburger – short rib, chuck and brisket burger on a brioche bun with Scottish cheddar, baby gem lettuce, tomato, finished with our own burger sauce and served with skinny fries.

No matter the weather, we have had plenty of keen coffee drinkers and cake connoisseurs coming through the doors. And we can thankfully say that they have gone away satisfied!

Our cakes, bakes and tarts are freshly made in the Hub every morning and have proved incredibly popular. We have been serving up traditional Scottish bakes like scones and shortbread as soon as they’re out of the oven. Whilst our stunning lemon meringue tarts and cheesecakes have been disappearing as fast as we can make them.

For the safety of our customers and staff, we are working at a limited capacity right now. We are incredibly grateful to our customers who show great understanding that, not only are we finding our feet here, but that the entire hospitality industry is reopening after its biggest challenge in living memory.

It has been great to hear so many customers talk about how they feel that it is important to support local ventures such as ours. Convenience, sustainability, and quality all improve when we support local.

Eggs royale

The café is now open!

With our social distancing measures in place, the successful recruitment of new team members, and our test run of the kitchen complete, we can now offer a relaxed and satisfying sit-in service.

What’s Coming Out of the Kitchen

We are extremely pleased with our opening menu. It represents who we are, it celebrates local produce, and most importantly… it’s delicious! During this period, we are continuing to listen to our customers and find out exactly what you’re looking for.

Our chef and his team have shown fantastic creativity and versatility in designing the menu. We’re happy to offer Hubmade bakes and comforting meals that will leave you satisfied.

Still Supporting Local

One of the major benefits of supporting local producers is that it guarantees that our ingredients are incredibly fresh.

Family favourites and some new additions all appear on the menu. Nisbet’s Family Butchers provides our meats, Corrie Mains provides free-range eggs and day-1 milk from Morton’s is used in our comforting porridge (including our porridge brûlée). Following all that, some Woody’s ice cream along with one of our desserts goes down a treat!

We serve breakfast from 9am-11am. Our menu includes full breakfasts, morning rolls, porridge, granola, and specialities such as Eggs Benedict and fresh baguettes served with Ayrshire ham and Corrie Mains’ eggs.

Our lunch menu includes Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Fish and Chips, and a Chefs-Cut Cheeseburger. You can find our desserts here too!

As well as that, our kids’ menus offer up family-friendly meals and treats. From Eggy Bread to Mini Mac ‘n’ Cheese, there’s plenty to keep the kids happy (and that’s before they get stuck into their ice cream at lunch!)

Given the enthusiasm and satisfaction of our customers in the farm shop, we are excited to have the café open and to offer you a brand-new, purpose-built space where you can socialise, engage, and enjoy time together – with a beautiful rural backdrop, and with fantastic local food at the heart of it all.