“We are flat out on the farm as well as in the shop,” says Imogen Stanley at Rectory Farm, who opened the farm shop in Stanton St John last Thursday, well ahead of this year’s normal schedule.”
“We are also getting 50 job applications for fruit pickers a week – about 25% more than usual, and have taken 600 orders since we opened,” she continues.
Now more than 20 days into the new regime, Imogen adds that the farm shop is busy and plentiful with fresh produce and groceries.
“we have organised a drive through collection system with a credit card machine on a long stick which the customers love – it makes them laugh!”
“We were due to open on April 25 because we mostly just have pick your own fruit but we decided to change that to last week even though we had hardly any time to prepare.
“We have a click and collect service and our shop is open with plenty of fresh veg, dairy, bread, eggs and meat. We are still managing to get some products from Spain and France but that has been challenging.
“We work with other local suppliers and producers all the time and have local bread and eggs available, it’s more important than ever to support each other at the moment.”
Social distancing measures are in place, but Imogen says customers are just happy and grateful that the shop is open. “We have plenty of fresh produce and some grocery items too and the shop is quiet and calm as we are only allowing a few people in at a time, but everyone is happy to wait in the sunshine. There is no need for anyone to be scared to shop,” Imogen adds.
They have also organised a drive through collection system with a credit card machine on a long stick which the customers love – it makes them laugh!”
Imogen added that the shop is offering local deliveries for older people or anyone who can’t leave the house, and the team at the shop will also carry shopping to the car for people if they can’t leave their vehicles.
“We are trying to be as flexible as possible and other local shops are delivering to specific areas so if we all carry on doing that it spreads the load and makes it easier to get deliveries out.”
With wheat in the ground already and potatoes scheduled to be planted next week, life on the farm is pretty much business as usual. Asparagus and rhubarb will also be added to vegetable boxes for customers as they are just about ready to pick.
Imogen told us: “We are still planting on the farm and we have ten people busily planting potatoes ready for the autumn and 15 in the pick your own fields so it is busy here.
“We are about six weeks away from strawberry picking though, so we are not sure what we will do about that just yet.
“But the wheat has gone into the ground now, so all I really need is to be able to mill it into flour as that’s one thing a lot of our customers are asking for!”
Rectory Farm is closed on Easter Sunday and Monday. Please email email@example.com for enquiries and check the website www.rectoryfarmpyo.co.uk for latest updates and opening times.