I remember in March sitting on a tea break in the farmyard talking with the team, we were discussing coronavirus. Commenting on how we won’t go into a lock down. It didn’t seem possible nor real. This isn't something that would affect us.
Oh how wrong we were.
We are a working organic farm which has diversified in various ways : shepherds hut, weddings, educational visits and much more. Our main source of income comes from diversifying our spaces.
The farming side provides us and the local community with pasture fed beef.
During the first month we sold more meat than we ever have before and started up a meat box delivery. It felt fantastic that we could provide to the local area. We couldn’t keep up with demand at points but did our very best to. It was so strange driving around Exeter with the streets empty of people and cars.
Farmers/bakeries/cafes have worked so hard during the lockdown getting food out to everyone. These are small local businesses putting everything they have into making it work the safest and quickest way to get food to customers. I know a lot of us have had to build an online shop and get our head around things in very stressful times. Also to see your customer base double/triple over night puts a lot of strain on you to keep your staff safe, your product it’s best and also try to grasp what is happening globally.
All events/bookings for the summer have now been cancelled/postponed. Initially it started with the odd message between wedding couples, the unknown, should they postpone, do we think it would be possible to go ahead? It’s been upsetting for couples due to be married and difficult to know what to plan for.
It’s so odd looking at the bookings we had during April/May and to think of all the planning for them just to be gone overnight. Especially when working within events you generally know what your movements are for the next year are. It’s really disconcerting not knowing especially for the control freaks amongst us. I keep feeling like it’s a dream, and that the nightmare is the event is going to happen tomorrow and we aren’t organised for it. I guess this is how we deal with change, we have to rewire our brains. All of our bookings have moved to next year, for us smaller venues this will have a knock on effect. We’ll have missed out on a whole Summer of bookings as we are now fully booked for next year.
This leaves us in a predicament for the coming months. How can we make the farm a safe place for people to still come here, bring in revenue which we’ve lost and keep staff safe? We’re planning ideas now but again so difficult to know as the future isn’t so obvious now. However one thing I do know is we have plenty of outdoor space and we can utilize that.
It’s been so quiet without the educational visits. We are so used to the bus loads of children descending on the yard. Walking around with their faces painted like badgers and discussing what wildlife they had seen in the hedgerow. My hat goes off to all the parents at home with the kids all the time. I imagine it’s been a mixed bag of emotions. One thing we can be thankful of is the sunny weather. Great for getting the kids outdoors to blow off some steam. I think we are all generally much calmer after a bit of nature.
As the weather has dried up all the cows have been let out to the fields. Farming must continue and we are lucky enough to have the space to work together whilst keeping our distance. Our main worry was everyone becoming ill at the same time and having know one to look after the cows.
Continuing to work over this period has been strange. All of us worried about family and missing the interaction with all the people we would normally welcome onto the farm. Some days it has felt as though nothing is happening because our routine has stayed the same.
I really hope that people will support local . To move forward to see change, we need to keep supporting the businesses that were there when you really needed food/supplies and not just all of us heading back to convenience. My local shop kept our whole town fed, I bought most my vegetables from Shillingford organics , ate meat from the farm, milk from Taw River dairy and loose items from Zero waste shop in Exeter. I will continue to support all of these businesses, they worked hard and provided to us during a crisis.
For now we will keep focusing on looking after the animals and keeping the staff safe. For the immediate future we will follow Government guidelines and work within them. Hopefully we can open up to people with the likes of a cafe and a farm trail.
Our farm shop is open daily 8am-6pm. We sell meat, eggs, milk and some dried products.