Sustainable farming and local sources could benefit from changing habits
The Coronavirus Pandemic presented enormous challenges for farmers but also opportunities for sustainable food producers, according to a regenerative grower from Pembrokeshire.
Peter and Anne Segger run Blaencamel Organic Farm near Ceredigion. They supply selected restaurants, farmers markets, and veg boxes as far away as Cardiff. They saw their market shrink as restaurants closed during the lockdowns and grew as customers sought out healthier, locally grown, and sustainable food.
Peter said: “The whole structure changed when farmers markets closed during the first lockdown. Then the restaurants shut down, and we had to rethink it all again. Then we had to put it all back in place when they reopened. It was the most incredibly frustrating time but very exciting in the way that customers responded to the challenges and adapted to them.”
The couple found that as social distancing made shopping in supermarkets more complicated, consumers turned to local suppliers for their food shopping; a boon for small farms like Blaencamel.
“The growth in demand for locally sourced food has been extraordinary, and very pleasing because we’ve been working and hoping for this for decades. There was already a fantastic interest and loyalty by people to the concept of local sourcing, and the pandemic has just reinforced that. Also, as people become more aware of health-related issues, they have been seeking out healthier and more nutritious food.” Peter said.
But Peter’s optimism is bridled by healthy scepticism and says: “We have to be careful about not getting overexcited about it. It seems enormous to us, but we’re a small part of the overall wheel of the food industry.”
Peter believes strongly in the idea of feeding communities with locally grown food, so much so that he has proposed a manifesto for Welsh horticulture dubbed the ‘75×35’ campaign. The aim is for Wales to produce 75% of all fresh produce consumed in Wales by the year 2035, and Peter hopes it will pick up popularity in political campaigns in the coming year.
“We’ve been given this gift of an opportunity to indent local food into the consciousness of the local population, and we need to take it.”
Peter’s advice for new growers breaking into the market post-coronavirus: “I would advise people to join their nearest farmers markets, and get to know the customers, and offer a range of services including online in the event of a prolonged crisis with coronavirus. Also, to seek out the best retail shops and restaurants in your area and invite them to your farm and try to strike a relationship with them for the long term.”
You can find out more about Blaencamel Farm on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/blaencamelfarm/
Image Credit: Peter Segger. Copy by Imogen Astley Jones and As You See It Media.Categories: Marketing inspiration.