Wow…What a year!
2020 started with Robert and myself jetting off to conferences around the states and Europe, planning what was going to be the best year ever with lots of new exciting experiences on the farm and in the shop, the new wedding barn and really taking Farmer Copleys to the next level.
Rob & I were meant to be skiing in France, then the news breaks and we get nervous. At 4:30am in the morning we decided that one of us would go and one would stay. Two days in, Robert rung to say he is coming home in the morning asked for a lift from the airport. Of course, I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see him home.
Almost 36 hours later they closed the French border. We were in the office watching Boris and his announcements trying to fathom out which way we should be pivoting with the business and literally chopping and changing daily. Next, the cafés closed & we had to make some very stressful decisions – it was a really rubbish time. The government introduced the furlough scheme which was amazing. Prior to this we had been looking at loans to retain the staff but this would have been crippling to the business, so this news gave us the safety net we needed and has ensured that the business has survived.
How we coped.
The shop was in undated, so Ted set up an online delivery system. This was an absolute nightmare. There’s a reason farm shops don’t have a delivery system. This changed into a set menu of items that could be delivered or collected through the Drive-Thru. Next thing we increased the range to freshly made pizza, afternoon teas to the latest the Drive-Thru gelato. Innovative and pivoting does not come close! This was stressful but do you know what it was also quite fun, and we have had a giggle at times and the team has really bonded more so than ever.
Next came the daily videos of Heather and Ted. This would never have happened before. We needed to communicate to you as quickly as possible and this was the best avenue. This element will be staying as we have a little fan base, and don’t take ourselves too seriously. The click and collect system will stay too.
We’ve piped music into the outside area for people queuing and changed to eco-friendly trolleys. You have been fab on the whole at observing the distancing rules and helping us to help keep you safe. We hope we’ve made your shopping experience enjoyable in these strange times. I do think we’ve seen an increase of ‘old’ clients who’ve returned, lots of newbies and hopefully the majority will stay with us as we do like to see you all and keep improving the farm shop – we even introduced toilet roll and kitchen roll (both 100% sustainable of course) Weetabix, HP sauce, Heinz Ketchup – some of the British Icon foods, all with royal warrants and lets face it if they’re good enough for Her Royal Highness then they are just about good enough for our lovely clients.
Our team have been incredible throughout this pandemic. It’s been really interesting see how different people have reacted to everything. We’d like to say how proud we are of our team. We couldn’t have got through this without them they are truly fab. We have been so lucky due to the location on the farm. The fresh air and space, nice environment and interacting with you has been like a lovely bubble.
We are still going through the planning permission for the new big barn (name TBC) the events space upstairs has been revamped and will be known as The Hayloft from now on, with a more rustic feel, new floor etc, we envisage this space been used a lot for memorial gatherings as we have all lost loved ones during this period and not been able to grieve properly & saying goodbye properly is part of the process.
Outside we had an incredible socially distanced and safe PYO season, the Corn Maze was amazing & the Pumpkin Festival was incredible under the circumstances. We welcomed loads of you to pick your perfect pumpkins and have some good quality family time together.
Robert throughout all of this has also had his Farm Retail Association hat on, primarily with numerous zoom meetings. It’s helped by sharing thoughts, problems, and best practices throughout the industry as we’ve all been through similar situations.
We’re on with Christmas now and Turkey, Meat & Hamper orders are open and available to book online or in-store with our lovely butchers. Why not pick up a brochure or check it out on our Christmas page. The Café is now a Drive-Thru Farm Shop & Moo Takeaway again as we head into Christmas and we’re waiting to hear from Boris on what the next step is.
Please remember we are looking at the guidelines and working it out as we go. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to drop us an e-mail. That’s how we ended up doing afternoon tea. I’m sure we will all be stronger, better, friendlier, more understanding people by the end of this.