BEYOND THE TRADITIONAL FARM SHOP
The Farm Shop is by no means a new concept, it’s been a great way for farmers to add value and drive revenue for many years.
However with the growing farm-to-table movement, awareness of carbon footprint and the increased demand for food provenance, farm shops have evolved and are now much more than simply a successful form of diversification for farmers nationwide. With an estimated 4,000 farm shops in the UK and a combined annual turnover of approximately £1.5bn, it is now a very significant market. Differentiation is essential if a farm shop is to survive and thrive.
While offering produce for sale remains key, unless you have plenty of passing traffic it is necessary to think more imaginatively to sustain the operation and drive customer numbers. It’s important to make visiting the location as enticing as possible, thinking about providing additional experiences and activities, based on your location and available resources.
Here are some of the most popular farm shop experiences across the UK, who stand as strong examples of what can be done to enhance the experience and offer, and ways in which you can expand further as an aspiring rural entrepreneur:
Ecological design: Keelham Farm Shop – Skipton
Part of an award-winning farm retail chain, this remains a popular destination for all in or visiting the historic market town of Skipton. On a site close to the centre of Skipton, it features a wide array of amenities including a coffee shop, butchers, flower shop, juicer, alehouse, dedicated seasonal barn and a café/restaurant. Offering customers hours of browsing and enjoyment, this particular farm shop is a marvel in not only the wide range of local produce they stock but also the way in which it was planned, designed and created.
It features a host of eco-friendly elements including a ‘living’ wall and photovoltaic solar panels. This focus on ecological planning makes this a fantastic example of getting the most out of your establishment. To find out more about the work done on the farm shop you can visit our case study page here. Alternatively you can visit the Keelham Farm Shop page here.
Children’s Play: Pink Pig Farm – Scunthorpe
An ideal location for families, this shop is located on a working farm belonging to the same family for over 90 years. What started out as a small shop/cafe on the property has since blossomed into a booming business, offering not only fresh produce and homemade goods, but most importantly, also multiple play areas and a petting farm.
They even cater to outside events, so you can bring the goodness of the farm to your party. To find out more about the Pink Pig Farm, visit their website here.
Pick-your-Own: Darts Farm – Devon
Darts Farm have expanded into multiple areas to give visitors an in depth agritourism experience. What started as a simple farm shop now offers a complete rural lifestyle shopping outlet and onsite spa.
One of the biggest selling points for many looking to get stuck-in is the pick-your-own fresh fruit & veg service and onsite fishing. This combination of shopping & activities has proven popular as it provides visitors with a sense of accomplishment. For more information, visit the Dart Farm website here.
Educational: Apley Farm Shop – Shropshire
Apley Farm are a prime example of making full use of your capabilities, skills and knowledge. By successfully combining their resources and their branding skills, they are able to offer visitors a full shopping basket of Apley goods as well an activity-packed day out for the family.
The biggest selling point, however, is their dedication to skill sharing and education. They offer multiple courses such as butchery, baking, gardening and cheese making; all of which they are able to adapt to different age groups. This full-service farm shop is a masterclass in agritourism. To find out more, visit their website here.
Specialised Delivery: Whitmuir Organic Farm – Scotland
A refreshing take on farm-to-table, Whitmuir are not only an organic farm shop/cafe, but also have ventured into selling produce boxes online. They provide a number of organic goods from fruits to meats all grown on site with guaranteed low food mileage.
They’ve even set up a Farm Supporters scheme, exchanging monthly payments from supporters for organic food and goods. Dedicated to their self-development, they have also invested in a biochar research project to try and improve crop productivity. To find out more, click here.
There are many other exemplars, including Cobbs Farm Shop, Millets, Tebay and Gloucester Services, each offering much more than the pure farm shop operation that got them off the ground in the first place. They also have their own identities and continue to evolve, backed by the loyal customer followings that they have created.