Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Farms take stock of new opportunities

Anna Mitchell from Castleton.
Anna Mitchell from Castleton.

Farm shop owners are looking at ways to maintain increased footfall to their premises after Covid-19 restrictions saw a surge in customer numbers for many.

As shelves emptied in supermarkets and town centre food stores, customers looked further afield for staples and, in a new experience for some, visited their nearest farm shop.

Farm owners stepped up and pivoted their operations to include deliveries of produce and pre-prepared meals to existing and new customers, as well as making donations to local food banks.

But as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease and people begin to return to work, farmers are looking at how to keep the customer momentum going.

Caroline Millar of Go Rural said a programme of live-streamed farm tours had boosted interest in farm visits and the organisation was “ramping up” its work with tourism body VisitScotland to encourage customers.

Various ideas are in the pipeline, including harvest-themed projects, as well as a festive-focused campaign scheduled to start in October on preparing Christmas food and sourcing ingredients directly from farms.

Ms Millar said the Scottish Enterprise agri-tourism monitor farm project would also be exploring how to develop customer engagement through digital streams, including loyalty programmes.

Anna Mitchell of Castleton farm shop and cafe near Laurencekirk said the firm had concentrated on having extra stocks of essentials and carried out deliveries six days a week at the height of lockdown, but this had dropped to two days.

The shop has opened a 60-seat eating area with socially distanced tables outdoors and introduced a one-way system inside the premises.

Mrs Mitchell said there had been a shift to awareness of where food comes from and farm shops have great provenance stories.

She was optimistic people would continue to visit.

She said: “Supermarkets provide convenience for people, but when it comes to providing a positive shopping experience and customers might be looking for a treat, then that is when farm shops come into their own.”

Meanwhile, Fiona Smith of Westerton Farmers near Laurencekirk, which runs the Spud Hut self-service farm shop, said the firm had expanded its offering during the pandemic with the purchase of a second shed and the launch of a new premium meat brand, Drumsleed Meats.

She said: “We aim to give positive experience to customers who are delighted at the difference in taste between produce sold directly from the farm and products that are pre-washed and sold in plastic bags in supermarkets.

“People have been doing more home cooking recently and this has brought more of an interest in food traceability.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]