May, normally one of my favourite months of the year. The winter is over, the nights are drawing out, the sun is shining, and our heard of native Ruby Red Devon cattle are back grazing on the banks of the River Clyst. Our fields have been planted, the first of the summer crops are starting to flourish and our sweet rhubarb is being hand-picked by our farm team and making the short journey to our farm shop.
It’s also the start of the local food festival and shows. A place to catch up with old friends, meet new producers and build new relationships; it’s where all the links in our short local food chain come together. It is our opportunity to celebrate what our region has to offer.
But this year is all a bit different! The Coronavirus pandemic has changed things for us, like it has many other businesses! Whilst we are still busy farming, our footfall has fallen and all of our local festivals and shows have been cancelled, so we are going out into our community in a very different way.
We have so many amazing loyal customers that have shopped with us for many years and really are part of the wider Darts Farm family. We wanted to do everything that we could do to help them during this difficult period, so we had a brainstorm with our team and came up with a few ideas…
Within a few days, we had launched our ‘Free Home Delivery to the over 70s and the vulnerable’ and offered all of our customers a click and collect service from our carpark.
Within a week, we launched a fully functioning online business, delivering Seasonal Vegetable boxes, Fruit boxes, Salad boxes, Meat boxes, Meal Solution boxes, Ready Meals and Store Cupboard Essentials across Devon. We joined forces with a local wholesaler who supplied pubs, restaurants and hotels, all of which have now closed, to help us with our deliveries. It really is amazing how in a crisis people and businesses pull together to help each other out and to keep the local economy going.
Once we cracked the food boxes, we started to look at how we could begin to cheer people up during this hard time. Our ‘Send Some Cheer’ boxes can be popped in the post and delivered to anyone that may need some cheer. Whether they love coffee or tea, chocolate or gin there is something for everyone!
We then decided after a prolonged period at home, people would need inspiring. First, we created our Tasting Experience boxes; whether it’s cider or beer, cheese or charcuterie, each box contains an array of the best hand-selected products, tasting notes and producer information – a masterclass in a box! This was followed by our mindful cooking boxes which contain all the ingredients you need to bake a cake, create incredible brownies or master the art of preserves.
Throughout all of the change, our team have been incredible; they have completely adapted and thrived in the situation. Our chefs have gone from cooking meals for the restaurant to creating incredible tray bakes of lasagne and shepherds pie to send out as ready meals. Our restaurant team have been busy re-stocking our farm shop and our gift teams have worked tirelessly organising deliveries… and most of it has run smoothly!
It’s all a bit surreal, but here at Darts Farm we are adapting and changing all the time – as a result of much-reduced customer traffic we are keeping busy taking the Darts Farm experience to your home.
For us, nothing says Spring like a delicious lamb roast accompanied by minted, seasonal veg and garlic butter new potatoes!
We are thrilled to announce that our expert florist, Anna Slade, was awarded a Silver medal at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.