A Leicestershire farming family has met increased demand for local food during the coronavirus by adding a hand-raised pork pie to its butchery range.
When the first lockdown hit the UK earlier this year, the supplies of pork pies ran out at March House Farm’s shop in Great Dalby, near Melton Mowbray.
Brothers Dan and Tom Belcher, who run the farm, and Dan’s fiancée, Jo Rodger, who manages the farm shop, knew they had to move fast to make changes to enable their business to thrive.
Regular customers desperate for their pork pie “fix” suggested the farmers make their own, as they farm free-range, native-breed pigs and run a farm shop with on-site butchery.
In response to demand, the farmers began producing and perfecting their own Melton Mowbray pork pie recipe, with every bit made and baked on the farm.
“We spent a lot of time perfecting the recipe of our hand-raised pork pies, with our pork born and reared on our own farm,” said Dan.
“Our pies are very popular with customers. They are in high demand and sales are flourishing. We are now planning to increase production and get them out to a wider customer base through our online shop and wholesale markets.”
The March House Farm shop has remained open throughout the pandemic, providing its customers with their home-reared beef, lamb and pork.
The farmers said it was essential to remain open to supply their customers with the quality of service and products they were used to.
When the first lockdown hit the UK in the spring, the farmers added a new online shop with a click and collect option and free home delivery.
All staff were retained, and some who were working in the café, which had to close, were redeployed into making the farm’s home-made pies, scotch eggs and sausage rolls, as well as ready meals and other produce.
The aim was to keep team members employed and continue to supply regular and new customers, some of whom are elderly and vulnerable and not able to get out.
A new coffee hut was installed over a weekend and a barn has been transformed into an outdoor café.
With the original café remaining closed, they have now expanded the farm shop into that area with space for socially distanced shopping and a wider product range as Christmas nears.
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With our partners, we are raising public awareness of this campaign by highlighting the actions farmers are taking to get food to consumers.