SELLING food directly from farm to consumers is on the rise, with local produce becoming a family staple during lockdown.

With food service sector closures and long waiting lists for supermarket deliveries, the growing trend is to go direct to local producers, through signing up to the likes of vegetable boxes and doorstep milk deliveries.

Farmers have risen to the challenge to adapt their businesses to cater for heightened online demand and to ramp up home-deliveries and trial new ways to support a growing local customer base.

Peelham Farm in the Scottish Borders has introduced direct selling into their organic business, which produces pigs and cattle for its own on-site butchery and online meat shop.

The firm's Denise Walton received an ‘avalanche’ of online orders when restaurants and farmers markets were forced to close due to Covid-19 and has had to set strict order deadlines to cope with demand: “It’s been a profound change in how we supply our customers,” she said. “It requires a different approach to communication. Consistent messaging is essential for direct sales. It’s a discerning and knowledgeable customer base in a crowded market, so being consistent – in sourcing your products as well as in your messaging and communication – is key.”

The Roan’s Family Dairy based at Barnbarroch have had to expand their business and fleet to deliver fresh produce to a growing number of customers in Dumfries and Galloway – gaining over a thousand new customers in the first three weeks of lockdown.

They hope that once the current crisis calms down that people will not automatically default back to supermarkets: “Our new motto is – ‘A Milkman is for life, not just for coronavirus’,” said Aylett Roan. “We don’t want thanks for doing the job we always do, but we want people to realise that when the chain breaks with supermarkets, we are here to support them. Stay local, shop local.”

At Lunan Bay Farm, in Angus, the McEwan family are having to rethink how to sell their asparagus with the hospitality sector defunct: “It has been a stressful time as we lost 70% of our customers, but on the other hand, greengrocers and farm shops from all over Scotland have been contacting us to sell our produce,” said Dr McEwan.

The family is going to concentrate effort in supplying farm shops and other small independents and are teaming up with food distributors to sell direct to people’s doors in vegetable box deliveries.

Dr McEwan added: “Some of these outlets are providing a lifeline to many rural communities – some of whom have no alternative of accessing supplies.”

The Glasgow-based business Locavore comprises an organic supermarket, two cafes, a veg box scheme, market garden, and a wholesale organic supplier arm, Locavore Trading. Managing director Reuben Chesters explained that demand for veg boxes has 'gone through the roof' and that they have launched an online shop in response to the crisis.

Soil Association Scotland is hosting farmers and growers across Scotland for an online discussion about direct selling on May 7, to help businesses adapt to the coronavirus crisis.

SAS supply chain officer Lucie Wardle said: “The coronavirus crisis has had a big impact on supply chains. Direct selling is a good opportunity: people are turning to local farmers and growers in bigger numbers than before to supply the produce they need. We’re seeing the resilience of these short local supply chains, as farmers and growers adapt their businesses to meet this demand.”

All farmers and growers can join the free online discussion Sell Direct Scotland: Adapting your farm business during the pandemic on Thursday, May 7, 2020, between 7pm and 8.30pm. Book your place via

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