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Soil Association Scotland is hosting farmers and growers across Scotland for an online discussion on May 7 about direct selling, to help businesses adapt to the coronavirus crisis. Denise Walton of Peelham Farm (Scottish Borders) and Reuben Chesters of Locavore (Glasgow) will talk about the impact of the crisis on their businesses, and how they have pivoted to direct selling as a result. Farmers and growers will learn how Denise and Reuben introduced direct selling to their businesses and get tips and advice on how to implement this themselves. Soil Association Scotland's Supply Chain Officer Lucie Wardle will also discuss public procurement opportunities for small producers. Denise Walton farms pigs and cattle organically at Peelham Farm in the Borders, where she has an on-site butchery and online meat shop. As restaurants and farmers markets closed, she received an “avalanche” of online orders, while operating with a reduced staff due to Covid-19. Her initial priorities were ensuring the health and safety of staff, and the resilience of the abattoir – butchery – courier supply chain. Denise says: “It's been a profound change in how we supply our customers. It requires a different approach to communication. Consistent messaging is essential for direct sales. It's a discerning and knowledgeable customer base in a crowded market, so being consistent – in sourcing your products as well as in your messaging and communication – is key.” The team at Peelham have adapted as they've gone, setting strict order deadlines and even getting their own van back on the road to deliver to customers in Edinburgh every Friday. Reuben Chesters is Managing Director of Locavore. The Glasgow-based business comprises an organic supermarket, two cafes, a veg box scheme, market garden, and a wholesale organic supplier arm, Locavore Trading. While the cafes have closed under lockdown, demand for veg boxes has gone through the roof. Locavore has also launched an online shop in response to the crisis. Reuben says: “The market for online sales is there. People are wanting to shop online, and to support local farms and businesses. But be aware of the administration involved; set up a slick and streamlined order process from the start.” Lucie Wardle, Supply Chain Officer at Soil Association Scotland, says: “The coronavirus crisis has had a big impact on supply chains. With schools and businesses, restaurants and cafes closed, farmers and growers are rethinking their business models. Direct selling is a good opportunity: people are turning to local farmers and growers in bigger numbers than before to supply the produce they need. We're seeing the resilience of these short local supply chains, as farmers and growers adapt their businesses to meet this demand.” All farmers and growers can join the free online discussion Sell Direct Scotland: Adapting your farm business during the pandemic on Thursday 7 May 2020, 7–8.30pm. Book via bit.ly/SellDirect7May.

<< back Published: 28 Apr 2020, 11:46

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