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Real Farm Shops, Online Action & Flexibility!

Whilst we find our own ways to navigate these challenging times, looking at routes to build resilience, making ends meet and focussing on positive thoughts, there are still exciting and interesting tales to tell as events go online and Scottish Food Guide members diversify.

Whilst some of the food-to-go and delivery services may become but a memory, I think many members will adopt some of the features on a more permanent basis as it gained them new recognition and customers. Indeed there are reports of locals ‘discovering’ their nearby chef or cheesemaker for the first time having lived on the doorstep for years! Thankfully there are some silver linings.

Some places have made more permanent changes, taking their dream off the proverbial shelf or realising an ambition that was in abeyance. Hardiesmill has transformed their butchery into a fabulous pop-up Farm Shop selling not only their world-class ethical beef but also their charcuterie, along with a carefully selected range from their farming friends around the Kelso area and vegetables grown a stone’s throw from their farm near Gordon. Well worth a visit: open Thursdays to Saturdays, details here

Errichel in Perthshire, a working farm of heritage breeds with its award-winning restaurant Thyme, is also making plans for welcoming visitors. Having spent #lockdown providing hundreds of subsidised Sunday lunches for those shielding and offering a great food-to-go service delivered locally throughout COVID, Slow Food Cooks Alliance Member Paul and his wife Becky are planning to open their own onsite Farm Shop soon too – something for all of us to look forward to.

I have attended a range of webinars on Food Tourism, IT, Digital Strategy, Business Development OSCR (for Charity Trustees) and various zoom meetings including a full REHIS Board meeting!

The food festivals and events are sadly missed however Howard Wilkinson created a veritable zoom version for the Ballantrae Food Festival that was most enjoyable. There were contributions from across Europe including our friend, Slow Food chef Paul Seugling over in Sweden, and I did my first virtual cheese tasting with Ayrshire cheeses from Ballochmyle & Dunlop. Well done to Howard and thanks for inviting me.

This coming weekend (July 3rd & 4th 2020) is the Online Scottish Agricultural Show so look out for lots about it on social media and no doubt some super articles from Nancy Nicholson too. Friday is Championships day for all the animals and Saturday is Food day for which I offered to muster movies from Scotland’s Larder Live chefs and cooks so there will be a full day of virtual food events for you to enjoy.

Above all we need to be adaptable in these difficult unpredictable times and none more so than the authorities! There are many issues that will cry out for flexibility: licencing, pavement cafés, al fresco options, not to mention financial support and human empathy.

Mobile abattoirs were on the table pre-COVID and hopefully will soon appear. Although my husband was approached we haven’t heard an update from those who sought his free advice. Interestingly, over in Sweden, they are likely to change the rules for wild boar as the population has spun out of control – after completing a four-hour hygiene course, hunters should be able to sell their game, subject to veterinary health checks and Trichinosis testing – of the boars that is, not the hunters! When things get tough we must review over-regulation. Flexibility is the name of the game.

By the way, this is a Linderödsvin not a wild boar - I had to be flexible as I do not have a wild boar photo...yet!

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