TV CHEF and food crusader Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall welcomed The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall as honoured guests to the River Cottage headquarters.

River Cottage HQ is based at Park Farm; the 17th century farmhouse just outside Axminster on the Dorset and Devon border.

Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall toured the farm today, July 15, – which is a working organic smallholding and also the base for all River Cottage courses and events – in the company of Hugh, the River Cottage founder.

As well as observing at close-hand the workings of the operation, the royal couple chatted to staff and members of the River Cottage team.

Hugh said: “I have long admired and been grateful for The Prince’s tireless support for sustainable agriculture and artisan food producers, and it was an absolute honour to welcome Their Royal Highnesses to our busy HQ.

“I was very proud to be able to show off our amazing operation and our brilliantly talented team.

“River Cottage is unique – there’s nowhere else in the country offering such a range of teaching in the area of local, seasonal cookery and ethical food production – and it’s wonderful for that to be recognised.”

The visit today launched the second day of royal engagements in the South West.

The royal couple have a long-standing interest in local, seasonal food and in supporting British producers.

River Cottage is widely known for its ground-breaking work in these areas, blazing a trail for the use of seasonal, ethically-produced ingredients and championing the cause of sustainability in the food industry.

While touring the farm, The Prince and The Duchess heard about the recently established Chefs’ School, which is instilling River Cottage values in a new generation of young professionals, and met Sam Lomas, winner of the Rising Star young chef award in 2013, as well as runner-up Freyja Davis.

They also chatted and joked with John Wright, River Cottage’s resident foraging expert and leader of the popular Edible Seashore and Mushroom Foraging courses.

Later on today, the couple will visit the new business and residential development at the historic Royal William Yard in Plymouth.

Their day will end on the seafront at the River Cottage Canteen, the 120-seat restaurant where the food philosophy of Hugh and his team is taken from farm to plate.