Business booms for Derbyshire farm shops during lockdown
Farm shops are doing a roaring trade during lockdown by giving their customers a personal service.
Josh Weston, manager of Highfield House Farm Shop, near Ashover, said that trade had tripled during the first lockdown and business was still up on previous years.
He said: “People are wanting to avoid supermarkets because they are overcrowded. We cut meat to size requirements and we chat to customers which is important at this time when they don’t see anyone.
“Since Covid we’ve been delivering locally to the vulnerable and isolated on Fridays, including to North Wingfield, Chesterfield and Barlow.”
Keeping its food footprint down is important to the business. Josh said: “We source all our stuff from a five-mile radius and get a lot from Walton Hall Farm which supplies Casa and Peak Edge Hotels.
"A lot more people are wanting local produce. They seem to be eating rather well – they can’t treat themselves by going out so they are treating themselves at home.”
Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop manager Richard Foster said: “I believe farm shops are so popular because we can offer a more personal service to our customers. We have seen a good growth with lots of customers commenting on how safe they feel with our Covid safety measures compared to other larger retailers.
"Since the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020 we set up a collection and delivery service. Through the summer of 2020 to the end of the first lockdown, we had five vans delivering across a ten-mile radius. We now have one van delivering to an eight-mile radius.”
Duchess Deborah established the farm shop at Chatsworth in 1977 and the philosophy of supporting Derbyshire producers holds firm today. Richard said: “We offer fresh meat and game from the estate and Derbyshire and other high quality products which are from smaller producers, compared to the more mass produced items usually found in supermarkets.”
Business has boomed for Adam’s Happy Hens Farm Shop in Chesterfield, where its Facebook followers doubled to 6,000 within 24 hours of the Prime Minister announcing lockdown.
The owner Adam Higginbottom, 28, said: “Our shop runs on Facebook – we don’t have a website. We have a click and collect service and we run a few deliveries to elderly people who don’t like going out.
"Everybody is fearful of going to the supermarkets so they are shopping local where they feel safer.
"People come to the shop for the experience. They drive onto the farm, see the hens and goats – it’s a nice trip out for the kids.”
Adam set up the business six years ago at The Yews dairy farm run by his dad John. He said: “I wanted to sell our eggs. My dad told me I was wasting my time, that no-one would buy them.”
From a starting point of 40 hens and an honesty box, the business now has 700 poultry and a shop. Adam said: “I went to Argos and bought a shed; we’ve got two wooden huts joined together.”
His girlfriend, Harriet Norman, helps run the shop which stocks locally sourced meat, fruit, vegetables, jams and chutneys.
Adam says: “As restrictions ease, I think there will be a percentage of people who will still use us; they are thankful for what we’ve done through lockdown.”