Published: 06:00, 11 June 2020
| Updated: 08:03, 11 June 2020
How many of us have discovered the good life while in lockdown?
With many shops forced to close and us all being urged to stay local, business boomed for the county's farm shops thanks to Kent folk wanting locally-grown goodies.
Many also had to close their doors, but some continued to offer deliveries, and have now reopened, with safety measures in place, while still continuing to provide deliveries and collection orders.
At Pluckley Farm Shop, the small shop in Smarden Road, Pluckley, is open, but has been very busy, with staff virtually doubling their hours to keep up with demand.
Helen from the shop said: "Things were crazy for a couple of weeks as even we had the panic purchasing. I think what has set us apart is the maintaining of high levels of stock - no empty sheves here and that really is because of local produce. We have our own bakers, local eggs, local fruit and veg, our own reared free range pork, local butchers, dairy farmers in High Halden etc. I truly hope a lot of people have been converted to shopping locally and how hard independent shops work. We kept all of our usual working hours.
"Basically we never shut throughout the crisis. This has been genuinely embraced by our locals and we provided deliveries to those in isolation too. We don't usually do deliveries but we had to rise to the occasion."
Find out more at pluckleyfarmshop.co.uk
In Southfleet, Gravesend, Broadditch Farm Shop reopened to customers last week, having implemented new social distancing measures.
While closed throughout lockdown, the team remained busy providing free home deliveries to the elderly and those self-isolating and contactless collections from the farm, all while continuing to farm their 470 acres of farmland.
Mark Harris said: "Although the farm shop was closed for normal business, we never stop providing everyday food essentials to our customers, everyone has been working very hard.”
"Whilst the public remain nervous about visiting shops, our footfall has been steady since we reopened. In addition to supporting our existing loyal customers, we have gained new customers; many never having used farm shops before and who have been very happy with the fresh produce and services provided. We continue to look at what is working well and will introduce new ranges and services to meet our customer’s needs”.
The farm employs eight part time farm shop staff, as well as general farm staff and an events team. Historically the farm shop opened seven days a week, however managers have decided to temporarily close on Sundays. For details go to broadditch.co.uk
At the Faversham home of the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale, its Tiddly Pomme gift shop has now reopened to visitors, though is not selling its heritage fruit from the site this year. However, this may change after Monday, June 15, when cherries grown on site are likely to be available.
The site itself is reopening for self-guided walks during its orchards in cherry season next weekend, but currently is open for those who want to buy goodies. Find out more at brogdalecollections.org
Just a few other farm shops open and taking orders include:
The Offham-based site has a farm shop with home-grown, home-made and local products including Spadework’s own cider and the charity working with adults with learning and other disabilities, is also running the Big Spadework Virtual Tea Party on Saturday, June 13 between 10am and 4pm. Details at spadework.org.uk/farm-shop
The Goods Shed, Canterbury
The site in Canterbury has been running a delivery service led by head chef Rafael Lopez throughout lockdown, plus its market with social distancing offering deliveries, collection and everything from cordials to pickles and pates. See what’s on offer at thegoodsshed.co.uk or call 01227 459153.
Perry Court Farm Shop
The farm near Wye has been providing a delivery service during lockdown, so you can place orders online, but the farm shop is now open daily. details at perrycourt.farm/theshop
Mockbeggar Farm Shop
The farm shop in Cliffe Woods is a small operation but has stayed open for pre-booked collections. Find out more on Facebook.