Farmer Focus: Opportunity for local food after the pandemic

Rainfall in May was non-existent and although our spring crops are desperate for a drink, the glorious weather has enabled us to complete all our spring hoeing and under-sowing.

Those small seeds are now waiting for a June splash to get them on their way to start building fertility in our soils.

As farmers we have been so incredibly lucky during this difficult time, being able to get on with our work and in my case have had some extra time to contemplate how I would like my life to change after the pandemic.

See also: Is bruchid beetle making spring beans less attractive?

I was one of the 480-plus people who completed a survey by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission on Learning From the Lockdown. 

The survey showed that 93% wanted more investment in short or local food supply chains. We have certainly changed the way that we shop, spending more on better quality food from the UK, ideally from Suffolk and organic if available.

The survey also said the lockdown showed that the UK’s food system had the capacity for rapid and transformative change. A friend of mine and co-founder of ChalkStream were supplying all of their trout into the foodservice sector, which was completely wiped out on 23 March.

Within the space of two months they changed their business model and now sell 50% direct to new online customers with the remainder going to farm and village shops.

Not one person who completed the survey said they wanted their life to go back to how it was before, and ChalkSteam has certainly captured the zeitgeist of the lockdown. 

We all have a chance to change our business model to engage with our customers who want their lives to be different. Get busy.