My first blog was all set to be about who I am and to tell people a little more about life on the farm but then - The Virus happened and everything changed .....
As a farmer adapting and diversifying is something we have had to get used to, we have faced feast and famine, battled against foot and mouth and TB outbreaks, when the weather is good we often work 20 hours a day and when it is bad we do all we can to save what is in the ground or in the case of last year, say goodbye to many of the crops we had grown.
We roll our sleeves up, scratch our heads and come up with a plan, that there is more often than not something in the workshop that can fix it - well not this, not a virus that took on the world, there was no amount of bale twine or old bits of wood and metal that could fix this.
We watched the world news and thought how terrible people are dying of this awful virus, then it crept closer and closer and within weeks - BOOM - it was all people were talking about, a bustling coffee shop with people telling us don't worry, we will still keep coming as long as we can, surely this won't affect the UK like these other countries. Italy went into lockdown and customers over 70 began to get upset that they were being targeted and they didn't want to stay at home. We changed process and practice to make sure there was no unnecessary handling of cutlery, sauce bottles etc and reassured customers that as long as we were allowed to be open, we would be here for them, and not to worry!
Within 24 hours, we went from normal, to our 'new normal'. Staff needing to isolate, staff with no work due to no coffee shop or meeting space and the need to make sure our customers were safe. From thinking in the past that it would be nice to offer a delivery service, especially to some of our customers who were beginning to struggle getting out, we implemented one. We set up order forms, phone lines, email addresses, picking and packing stations and all in line with social distancing, we were contacted by customers offering help, one customer just produced an on line order form for us, just because they could and wanted to and we even learnt there is an app to help you with deliveries, which has been very handy.
Pandemic aside, we are a farming family and have always wanted people to feel happy and safe when they visit us at Roots, we knew it would be hard with social distancing and changes happening almost daily, but the most important people are those that have supported us from the start, our staff and customers and no matter what, we wanted to make sure when ordering even in a time of panic you could still speak to someone who would ask - are you ok?
It has been a very strange few weeks, change is now the norm, if a day goes by and we don't change something we wonder what is going on. This virus has had a huge effect on everyone and in a way we have been very lucky being able to continue to serve our local community, so have not had too much time for it to get into our heads. We know things will never be the same again in every aspect of life, but hope that we will soon be able to see the faces of those we love, catch up over a coffee, even if it is at a 2m distance and make sure all of those people who have been so lonely for so long have somewhere safe to come back to and just sit and be part of something.
2020 - the year our bins go out more than us, you have dealt the world a curve ball, indeed we probably needed it, to sit back and realise what beauty there is around us and within us, we were sent to our rooms to think about what we have done to the planet and let's hope we all emerge better for it.
Stay well and safe and remember we are all in this together and I will see you on the other side.