A muddled spatter of rain showers has marked the official start to summer in Devon, and we are grateful to see our pastures regreening a little and the soil almost exhale in relief. As lockdown begins to ease, we are catching our breath ourselves and reflecting on an extraordinary few months. At times our daily orders were up 300%, forcing us to waitlist new customers for a period so we could catch up with demand. We are sorry if you found yourself among those forced to wait, but we chose to ensure we could fulfil orders rather than fail to deliver to anyone by overpromising.
The Covid-19 crisis has surfaced many questions about our food system, and it has certainly exposed the weakness of complex global supply chains. In contrast, the keystone founding principle of Pipers Farm is that we work with small scale family farmers like ourselves, who rear animals slowly on grass, rather than depending on imported feeds such as cheap grains.
These are small mixed farms, where animal feed is largely grown on site as part of the farming ecosystem. Such farms are the lifeblood of the countryside and its communities. They create local jobs, keep money in the rural economy, and the family farmers know and nurture the land. We believe they offer the most sustainable way to produce food, and the most robust, as they are unreliant on feed or inputs brought in from elsewhere. And they are best for the animals - reared outdoors, on a natural diet, in family groups, and nurtured as individuals. We work with around 30 small scale family farms just like this across Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall.
It is the long-term relationship we have with these fellow farmers that has allowed us to continue to bring food to your doors. Many food retailers fulfil demand for meat by going to the open market and buying what is the cheapest, with varying degrees of interest in how or where the animal was raised. However that option evaporated during the peak of lockdown, as panic-buying cleared what was normally abundantly available. Not so for us – by working with farmers for the long term, agreeing prices in advance to give them financial stability and the ability to plan, we never found ourselves short of meat to put in your boxes. It was just packing them and getting them out of the door that we struggled with at times!
In the rush to get back to normal life, we do hope you’ll take us with you, whether you are a longstanding customer or have found us more recently. We believe that small scale family farms offer the most sustainable way to bring good food to your homes and kitchens, while looking after our beautiful countryside for the long term.
It's all about long term relationships, come rain or shine. We believe it works with our customers too.