Day 8 – Suppliers!

Having started off just selling meat, it soon became apparent that people liked shopping here and wanted more!  We’d love to be able to produce everything we sell in the farm shop on our farm, but realised that that’s not possible.  The land that we farm and the climate we have here up North isn’t ever going to be good at growing tomatoes, mustard seeds, hops or asparagus at scale!  So we rely on some great suppliers to enable us to offer a wide range of products that compliment our own produce. Our first aim is always to find either local or organic suppliers and after that we are always on the look-out for interesting, delicious products.  A great way to do this is by visiting various trade shows that are put on throughout the year. I recently visited the”Food Expo” in Birmingham and it was great to see so many new start ups; I was tempted by flavoured butters, charcuterie and nibbles for cheese. It’s interesting to see what sells and what doesn’t – from yeast to Yorkshire puddings and charcoal to cheese.

I remember meeting Guy Tullberg of Tracklements, based in Wiltshire, at one of these trade fairs back in about 2005.  He said “you must sell my product in your farm shop – don’t worry about us not being local, you don’t grow mustard seeds up in Durham!” (mustard needs fertile, well draining soil). He had a point. So I began to sell a small selection of the Tracklements range. They were a hit, and continue to be a top seller. There is a great feature on their website explaining the Tracklement’s story.  Tracklements mint sauce and redcurrant jelly taste as good as home made, red onion marmalade is a must with our Saddleback sausages and we love their wholegrain mustard fantastic stirred into a creamy mash.  And despite them being in Wiltshire, delivery is next day!  

Once we had a few different products on the shelves we realised that the shop did indeed look brighter and more colourful, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I pulled the wool away from my eyes and realised that we were missing a trick by not selling any cards or gifts. This was all thanks to Kate Sutherland, who was quizzing me before opening her coffee shop “The Stable Yard” at Craster. Why on earth weren’t we filling our empty space with lovely things that related to food  – like dinner candles and plates?  With the help of my friend Ruth, and then Emma, we began to fill the shop with a new array of beautiful, colourful homewares…and the best thing about these products…no shelf life!