Posts Tagged ‘Cheaper than the supermarket’

Bumper Crop of Apples, time for Farm shops to act as community juice/cider maker?

Bumper crop of apples

Bumper crop of apples

This year there is a bumper Crop of Apples, many falling to the ground and wasted. We see this as a great opportunity for Farm shops to win customers by acting as community food hero and invite locals to bring their apples to make juice or cider.

We think farm shops should try and become the centre of their local food community and differentiate themselves from the supermarket as much as possible.

This can be done with fresher, local, fruit & veg, cheaper prices, better service, pick your own, animals around the car park, nature trails, tastings, cookery demonstrations, courses, crop for the shop, food swaps, and seasonal open days like, apple day, where locals can bring their apples and bottles to be pulped and juiced using the Farm Shop’s juice press.

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Every community should really have an orchard and apple press, after all ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. As most communities have a farm shop it seems to make sense to make the shop that centre. Especially if locals are encouraged to switch from the supermarket to buying from the shop and even growing produce to sell in the shop, with our Crop for the Shop scheme, or cooking to swap food at the shop on special food swap days.

People who love making cakes can swap a cake with someone who loves making stew, then do the rest of their shopping before they go home. All bringing new customers to the farm shop.

Switch from the supermarket? YES, we must. Perhaps not completely at first, try the local butcher or farm shop every week, (using our local food map) and the supermarket once a month for washing stuff, loo rolls, etc. You should save money, get better food and encourage more local production.

So the next time you visit your local farm shop mention apple day, crop for the shop and food swaps. If they are keen and not on BigBarn please tell them to contact us.


Seasonal Super Food: Sweet corn

Really fresh sweet corn

Really fresh sweet corn

Every year we promote sweet corn and how important it is to get really fresh corn on the cob with leaves, rather than the ready skinned, 4 day old, plastic packed, supermarket offer.

According to ‘Organic Facts’, corn aids in reducing the risk of digestive issues such as constipation. It provides necessary minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper, and helps alleviate anaemia with its B12 and folic acid content. It also helps you become beautiful! Corn is found in many cosmetic products and can aid in alleviating rashes or irritations of the skin.

So don’t delay use our local food map to find your local farm shop and ask when the corn was picked. You will probably find, like many other products, that it is cheaper than the supermarket, fresher and by buying locally you will be boosting your local economy.

Open Farm Sunday this weekend

If you are looking for somewhere to take, and educate, the kids in a fun way, this weekend, consider Open Farm Sunday. Simply type your post code in here and find out what some of your local farmers have organised.

Hopefully you will find a place to buy better, fresher, food that is often cheaper than the supermarket!

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Open Farm Sunday was first introduced in the UK in 2006 by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming). The first year was intended to be a pilot run of the project, but interest was high and over 300 farms opened their gates to the public. Ever sinse farmers have taken it up and made it their own and following the seventh Open Farm Sunday in June 2012, nearly one million people have visited a farm.

As BigBarn’s mission is to reconnect consumers with producers and encourage trade we fully support Open Farm Sunday. We hope that those farmers selling direct and use the day to persuade local people to switch from the supermarket to buying local.

Prince Charles attack on Food Industry

imagesIt was great to see a number of newspapers report on Prince Charles’ attack on the food industry. Backing up what we at BigBarn (Social Enterprise), have been saying for years. So here is our take on what is wrong with the anti-social, food industry, why local is better, and how we are going to build a better, more social, local, food industry.

The Prince sent us a letter of encouragement 7 years ago and I hope he has watched our progress and, perhaps, read a few BigBarn blogs for inspiration! It is fantastic that in a position of power he gives his unbiased opinion on food and farming, and raises awareness as the media report.

There is little doubt that something is wrong with the food industry, with; obesity, continuing food scares, and farmers, on average, only getting 9p in every £1 spent on food in a supermarket.

So here are some BigBarn blogs on this subject. Including; what is wrong, why local is better and how to encourage people to change, and divert as much of the £120billion spent with supermarkets, to local communities, with massive social benefit:


Blogs on what is wrong:

Shocked to see horse meat in ready meals?

Will middlemen destroy the food Industry?

Misleading Food Advertising

Blogs on why local food is better

Really Fresh, healthy, Asparagus

Growing & eating local food to enthuse kids and get them healthy

BigBarn About us video

Family Farm Shop

Family Farm Shop

Blogs on how we can change

Getting people enthused about cooking

BigBarn on Radio 4 & our strategy for change

In Summary: Big business and retailers have disconnected consumers from producers and many people have become semi addicted to the simple, one stop shop. Unfortunately this has led to farmers getting a very low price and consumers buying the wrong foods at high prices.

Luckily local food suppliers are offering a better alternative with cheaper, fresher, food, and knowledge. BigBarn is here to raise awareness to local food and encourage more people to break their one stop shop addiction and buy from, and communicate with, their local suppliers.

We live in a green and pleasant land perfect for growing food. Let’s switch to local and help build a more sustainable, social, food industry.

Misleading food advertising

Fresh local veg

Fresh local veg

Getting ready for work this morning I spotted two very dodgy TV adverts. Tesco ‘price promise’ and Walkers crisps.

Misleading because those watching will think Tesco must be ‘cheapest’ when on many products local suppliers are cheaper due to a shorter supply chain.

And Walkers, claiming they are a caring company, by sourcing flavouring ingredients from British producers. Quality crisp makers like Pipers, Fairfields, Just Crisps, Burts and Corkers have been doing this for years.

A few years ago pressure from these high quality crisp makers made Walkers switch from frying their crisps in Palm Oil, high saturated fat, to the much healthier, sunflower oil.
When Walkers ran an advertising campaign about the switch it was cut short when people like me asked why it had taken them so long!

So please ignore these dodgy adverts and shop locally to find better, fresher, food that is normally cheaper than the supermarket. And ask questions to get the facts and the story behind the food you buy and feed to your family.

Grow your own and Crop for the Shop

1942 Poster

1942 Poster

Grow your own is growing in popularity. Even the government are now telling us to Grow our own to avert food shortages.

In these austere times should we all start growing our own to save money? Or is growing food more about enjoying the satisfaction of planting a seed and slowly watching it turn in to delicious food?

At this time of year asparagus is the god of fresh vegetables and a shining example of how quickly a food can spoil as time passes after picking. Sweetcorn is the same, my friend Nick insists that his wife has the water boiling before picking his corn, and removing the husk as he runs back to the kitchen!

Really fresh sweet corn

Really fresh sweet corn

This is the kind of passion and enthusiasm we Brits need to feel about our food, and I am sure that growing food helps. Certainly the project we ran with a primary school proved this, with kids who said they hated vegetables munching on raw carrots they had grown. Click here for the video.

At BigBarn we are keen for everyone to have a go at growing food and even start trading it locally with our Crop for the shop scheme. All part of our mission to build a social, LOCAL, food industry, as an alternative to the anti-social national one, that gives neither producers, or consumers, a good deal.

bean pole wigwam There is no doubt that by cooking and eating fresh fruit and veg, half this country’s population would become more healthy, and save money. Seasonal vegetables are normally very reasonably priced compared to a ready meal, or imported food, especially if sourced locally.

A home baked potato could cost around 5p compared to a McCane ready made one, in a box, for 50p. Likewise a soup made from chopped mixed veg and some stock cubes will be a fraction of the cost of tinned soup and much more nutritious.

BigBarn Local food map with icons & rosette flag

BigBarn Local food map with icons & rosette flag

Growing veg can also kindle some artistic flair like my bean pole wigwam made from willow poles pruned from a local overgrown willow tree.

So there are now 4 reasons to grow your own; save money, get healthy, get enthused and artistic accolade, and, make money by selling your veg through local shops.

To find these shops look for icons marked with a rosette on BigBarn, if your local food shop is not flagged with a rosette, or not on BigBarn, please tell them all about us.

Farm Shops. According to BigBarn.

Farm shops come in all shapes and sizes, from farmers selling their own produce from a shed, to a mini zoo with super-duper small warehouse full of products from all over the world. One thing, we at BigBarn, hope they all have in common is, a reasonable quantity of local food and the ability and enthusiasm to tell the ‘story’ of that food.

The ‘story’ means reconnecting consumers with the production of their food, how it has been produced, where, and by whom. Really important if the shop wants add value, display a real difference to the supermarket and to win customers.

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Farm shops started when farmers realised that they were only getting a small percentage of the retail price if they sold their produce through the existing supply chain. My family for instance get around £100/ton for onions, marked up to around, the equivalent of, £800/ton on the supermarket shelf.

The first farm shop must have started when a farmer with shed beside a busy road put a sign out and people dropped in to buy, the rest is history.

Since then the planners have restricted many shops from being set up, normally insisting that new farm shops must stock a very high percentage of produce from the farm or local radius. In time however shops can appeal and the percentage be reduced by arguing that customers will be lost, if a wider range of goods are not available. Hence the small warehouses.

So what does the perfect farm shop look like? And this is where I perhaps upset a few farm shops on our map!

First of all a farm shop must live up to its name and be farm centric completely differentiating itself from the supermarkets. If it is based around a farm and local produce many seasonal products should be cheaper than the supermarket because the supply chain is shorter.

Prices can be kept low by inviting local consumers to Crop for the Shop with really fresh and perhaps unusual fruit & veg. There could be a special section of home grown local produce. Prices can be set 25% less than the supermarket and still give the shop and grower a good return.

The farm shop should make every effort to label where everything comes from including local farmers names and pictures. I would also like to see many of the farmers at the shop once a month to answer questions and talk about their produce, like a farmers market.

If possible the shop should have animals around the shop and car park to attract children and raise awareness to where meat comes from. Likewise an area should be available for Pick Your Own fruit and veg and perhaps a community supported agricultural scheme where locals are encouraged to join in and learn how to grow food.

Likewise most farm shops have a cafe that could be made available for cookery demonstrations or classes, to help locals move away from expensive salty ready meals, to fresh home made food from inexpensive local ingredients.

I would also love to see farm shops celebrating the seasons with open days, tastings and demonstrations. Asparagus day, or Apple day, where locals can bring their windfalls to be juiced or made in to cider. Perhaps Sausage day, Winter warmer Soup day, and Turkey collection day!

Farm shops should become the centre of the food community, reconnecting people with food and encouraging locals to get involved with growing and cooking. There is no reason why they can’t also be the centre of food swaps of home cooked meals.

Family Farm Shop

A BIG problem at the moment is that farm shops suffer from a Catch 22 position. Not enough people are using their local farm shop for it to grow into the perfect shop, above. And until they grow, people think there is not enough produce available for a one stop shop, like the dreaded supermarket!

So please catalyse the process and find and support your local farm shop and tell them about the ideas above. And tell your friends, if we all change our habits, to local for our weekly food shop, and the big shop once a month, we can build a more sustainable, healthier LOCAL food industry.