Amy and Simon add value to their produce and sell it in their own farm shop.
Market gardeners Amy and Simon Mackenzie-Mason knew they could earn a living from their gardening hobby; but to do better, they needed to add value to what they grew. So now, the enterprising couple supply their own farm shop and café, The Gardeners Kitchen near Abergavenny, with fresh produce, freshly prepared and frozen ready meals. All the fruit, veg and flowers are grown in a beautiful walled garden just 2 miles away.
Amy and Simon have been growing produce since 2010. They started, in their words, “to be sustainable”: growing only what they needed for themselves. They then sold any excess produce from an honesty box at the end of the drive. Eleven years later, they have learnt valuable insights and skills and become fully self-employed. Simon said: “We’re not necessarily in it for the money; it’s about enjoying what we do.”
Amy used to work as a costume designer and Simon within the hospitality industry. Amy uses her artistic skills and creativity in floristry and for baking stunning cakes, while Simon uses his culinary experience from working as a chef to understand food regulations and invent new recipes using the freshest produce. “The skills we can bring to play set us apart from other growers,” Amy said. The couple sell a range of goods in their farm shop and café, from veg boxes to syrups, cordials, baked goods, frozen meals and other products. Amy supplements the shop income with freshly cut flowers and floral displays for weddings and celebrations for miles around.
Their farm shop is open 5 days a week 10am to 5:30pm. Simon and Amy can be in their garden or baking and preparing food for the day from 5.30-6am. “It isn’t a 9 to 5 job, it’s your life,” said Amy. They do get some help in the garden for 15 hours a week but, as Simon puts it: “Amy and I are doing 4 to 5 people’s jobs”.
A third of their walled garden is set over to plants, a third for fruit and veg, with the last third for flowers. Splitting the garden into three means they can diversify their offer and make their business more sustainable or “whole”, as Simon calls it.
The shop and café are now the only outlets for their produce; when they opened, Simon and Amy stopped supplying anyone else. And they are cautious about doing any more because, as Simon says: “We don’t want to be in a kitchen for 20 hours a day, we would rather be on the farm.”
Amy and Simon’s advice for any future growers is: “Be persistent, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. If you have a particular skill that you can bring, it could be past employment or a hobby as a child bring it to the business table, that can make a difference.”
If you want to find out more about The Gardeners Kitchen, visit their Facebook page.
Pictures by Tim Jones, As You See It Media
Article by Ollie Storm WilliamsCategories: Marketing inspiration.