Posts Tagged ‘farm shop’

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.

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Rip off food industry will continue until consumers reconnect with producers?

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I noticed fresh onions in the supermarket yesterday priced at the equivalent of £2,000/ton, yet my cousin only got £130/ton for his crop of onions. This is fantastic example of how the modern food industry favours the middle men and retailers, not the farmer, or, in these austere times, consumer.

In the case above; are consumers and farmers being ripped off? Are english onions not in season yet, (or do not store until July)? Or is there a world shortage? If I, as a farmer, don’t know, what chance does the average consumer have?

The modern, national, food industry, does not want us to know. They simply provide us with all kinds of foods all the time, via imports and slick supply chains then charge us as much as possible. Some might ask what am I complaining about? I could still buy fresh onions and the price was clearly labelled.

The BigBarn local food map

The BigBarn local food map


My problem is that the national food industry is paying UK farmers very little and consumers are paying too much. We are offered a massive selection and one stop shop, but completely separated from where our food comes from, what is in season, and good value. And with continual marketing telling us we are too busy to cook, more consumers are buying fast food and ready meals and have no interest in cooking healthy seasonal vegetables.

Once I had priced the supermarket produce I dropped in to my local grower and bought a bag of beetroot, spinach, broad beans and lettuce for £1.80

So, to save money, eat well and be healthy, use the BigBarn map to reconnect with your local food producers, ask questions to get ‘the knowledge’ and celebrate the season’s bounty.

More food scares coming to a supermarket near you!

Cheap, and nasty?

Cheap, and nasty?

Thank you Tracy from Pigbusiness for mentioning BigBarn on last night’s Channel4 News. The horse meat scare has not gone away yet and is a classic example of how corporates and a very long supply chain are not good for us.

Findus was bought by a private equity company from Nestle in 2000 with the objective to make profit. Either by avoiding tax or by cutting cost. Managers all along the supply chain for frozen lasagna, were instructed to cut cost and, I would guess, special checking procedures were also cut. So scares like horse meat were bound to happen.

The BigBarn local food map

The BigBarn local food map

And many predict, will continue to happen as other ingredients are tampered with, or in time, changed to reduce cost. A number of experts, for instance, are very worried about the quantities of anti-caking agents used in the manufacture of ready meals. These contain nasties such as sodium aluminosilicate that, some say, cause dementia.

The fantastic news is that there is a better way, and not expensive. COOK local ingredients. You can ask the producer questions about how the food you buy has been produced and know that because his local reputation is at stake, he will tell the truth.

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Your local food will not have the cost of; a very long supply chain where every participant has taken a margin, haulage costs, marketing, fat cat salaries, packaging and Tesco markup.

I would expect most people will be a able to make a lasagne using local minced beef for not much more that the Findus product. Or cheaper if lentils are added to the meat sauce mix!

All we need to do, as a nation, is change our attitude to buying food, and cooking. Enjoy getting the story of your food from your butcher or local producer. And cooking is not a drudge. Let’s all get in the kitchen to create and celebrate!

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.

Fantastic cheap food now available

One of the best seasonal foods is now available for around 50p a portion. Fresh sweetcorn, delicious.

Especially when fresh for the best and sweetest flavour. You should really have the water boiling on the stove before you pick it, peeling the leaves off as you walk back to the kitchen. If not, buy it as freshly picked as possible, still with the leaves on, and eat as soon as possible.

Simply boil or even BBQ in the leaves and eat with a little butter or salt and pepper.

And next year plant some and try it really fresh. And perhaps even grow a bit extra and Crop for your local shop. Until then find your best local supplier using the BigBarn map, and ask when it was picked.

NB. Please comment if you see higher prices. Today 5/9/11 our local Tesco had no stock, Sainsbury 50p a cob and the local farm shop 45p a cob.