12 June 2020
Adapting to change can be a great challenge, particularly in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Unexpected events cannot be avoided but they can be used as an opportunity to learn and grow a business, which is exactly what Tyddyn Teg Organic Vegetable Farm has done from the outset of COVID-19 when panic food buying saw our vegetable shelves emptied. Farming Connect hosted two open events at Tyddyn Teg during 2019. Debbie Handley, Farming Connect’s horticulture technical officer reports on how the business has responded to the recent increase in demand for their produce.
Tyddyn Teg is a 31 acre holding which lies on the south facing slopes of a small valley between the majestic mountains of Snowdonia and the graceful beauty of the Menai Strait. Here they grow vegetables using organic methods, supplying the local community with quality food. Tyddyn Teg share a commitment to the importance of quality local food and the challenges of sustainability in the twenty first century and see their primary aim as maintaining vegetable production and meeting the needs and expectations of their vegetable box customers.
In running a weekly box scheme for more than 120 customers, it’s been vital for Tyddyn Teg to put safety measures in place to ensure that all customers visiting the site feel safe and that health and safety measures limit the impact of coronavirus. Fortunately, Tyddyn Teg had the foresight to put stringent safety measures in place prior even to lockdown being enforced and they also communicated this to their members via their social media channels. On 13 March they posted on Facebook:
“Please note: until the health scare blows over we will be individually bagging all your leaves and salads to cut down contamination risks. Sorry about all the plastic, but it is biodegradable and your health is important to us.”
On 17 March they announced:
As coronavirus spreads through the UK, we are taking proactive measures to make sure that you are all as safe as possible whilst still getting your vegetables. We hope you are all feeling well, able to eat well, and most of all finding peace during a time that can feel very nerve-wracking and unpredictable.
There are a few changes we’re making to our self service shop from this week.
We are in the process of putting in a hand washing sink next to the shop, just outside, please use this and the soap provided before and after you’ve collected your vegetables. We have also ordered hand sanitiser in the shop for customers to use.
Any salad items or loose greens will be put back into sealed bags for the time being.
We will be disinfecting and cleaning surfaces in the shop, plus the doorknob as much as possible throughout collection times.
We would ask that you please be patient and let one customer at a time in the shop, and wait till they are out before entering.
We have some limited capacity to deliver boxes to customers who are especially vulnerable to coronavirus – this means any customers 70+, or/and those with auto-immune or respiratory issues, or anything else which puts you at high risk. If you would like this service please get in touch.
Also, we would recommend that if you can, you come at less busy times to reduce interaction between people – remember as the shop is self service you can come 24/7 every day except Wednesday. Our quieter times are:
- before 9am every day;
- after 6pm every day;
- mornings are generally quieter than afternoons.
We'll keep reviewing our plans as things develop, but please feel free to suggest ideas.
We’d like to reassure you that as growers of the majority of the produce in the veg boxes at the moment, we will not stop growing or supplying you with fresh vegetables every week, whatever happens. Our supplier of potatoes, onions and roots which we buy in have assured us they can continue supplying us also, so you can still get your healthy, immune-boosting fresh veg.
We think that in times like these, local community supported agriculture schemes like ours are essential, and whatever happens, we'll do everything we can make sure that you keep getting your local sustainably produced vegetables.
Fig 1. Handwash facilities and a waiting bench at Tyddyn Teg’s on site shop.
According to a BBC article on 27 April 2020 “fruit and vegetable farms are thriving during the coronavirus crisis”. A recent survey saw “dramatic increases in demand” and this demand has continued throughout the pandemic.
Responding to customer needs proactively and sensitively through an unprecedented time of crisis, Tyddyn Teg has been able to increase their customer base for the box scheme and provide uninterrupted local supply. With the demand for locally grown fruit and vegetables now in the spotlight, there has been no better time for farmers to explore the possibility of diversifying into horticulture alongside their existing farming activities, bringing in additional income, developing stronger links with the local community and strengthening the local economy in Wales.
Fig 2. Freshly grown vegetables at Tyddyn Teg
Farming Connect is committed to supporting farmers in these times of change and challenge through offering information, advice and training. If you are interested in exploring horticultural opportunities, please contact Debbie Handley, North Wales Horticulture Technical Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.