CUSTOMERS scrambled to buy eggs and local produce when Coronavirus took hold in the UK.
Demand surged due to panic buying and a rise in the number of people home baking, which is when David Sharples saw a major increase in customers wanting goods from Clyttir Farm, near Ruthin.
The farm has 24,000 free range hens laying more than 150,000 eggs a week and also supplies a range of jams, honey and rapeseed oil.
He built a shelter to ensure people could social-distance when visiting the egg store during the Spring months and into the summer, and again when Wales went into a second lockdown recently.
But David admits he and others in his industry have been lucky to be able to “keep going” when others have been furloughed or are at-risk due to economic pressures caused by the pandemic.
“We are very fortunate that we could just keep going, and while we did see more sales of eggs here at the farm the virus has not had a major impact on our working lives,” he said.
“I have so much sympathy for the NHS and frontline workers and the many other people who have been absolutely run off their feet throughout all of this, they have our admiration.
“For us as farmers we have carried on to an extent; the roads were a lot quieter initially as people were self-isolating but because we are outdoors for most of the day things were much the same – we can social distance in our tractors.”
The Sharples’ deliver eggs and preserves to the elderly and vulnerable in their community and will continue to do so in the future, as are many working alongside Taste North East Wales to encourage shoppers to support local businesses.
Many of the new customers who joined them during the first lockdown have stayed with them, and he noticed a more relaxed response when the latest restrictions were put in place.
“With this most recent lockdown there hasn’t been the same panic, perhaps because we are a more rural area and people had more of an idea what to expect,” said David.
“We supply butchers in Ruthin and Denbigh, and community shops locally, and they still have a steady flow of customers but not people queuing down the street – there has been less panic buying.”
He added: “It’s hard to say how things will pan out over the next six months, we haven’t really got any idea because we’ve never been here before.
“All we can do is stick together and hope the people in charge are able to help us through this as quickly and safely as possible.”
The second annual Taste North East Wales is taking place online this year after organisers Clwydian Range Food and Drink and Llangollen and Dee Valley Food and Drink, with the support of Cadwyn Clwyd, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB and the local authorities of Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire, decided to host a virtual celebration to ensure the health and safety of participants.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.