Farm shop flourishing
A BUSINESS which started in a shed at the side of the road, using an old tractor tool box as an honesty box, has grown into a flourising farm shop business.
Marie Thomson runs her business, which has the slogan "What's For Tea Tonight?" from the Thomson family farm, Burn of Balmakelly, Laurencekirk.
Marie says: "We started from very humble beginnings in October 2007, when we got a request to sell horse feed carrots. We began operating from a garden shed, with that tool box as an honesty box.
"We also began selling broken turnips, free range eggs, locally grown potatoes, leeks and cabbage and after about three months it became clear that there was the potential for a business.
"I set about trying to stock more produce. Right from the start I tried to source my stock as locally as I could and I asked local people what they wanted.
"By Christmas 2008, the old shed couldn't cope with either the volume of people coming in or the amount of produce we were stocking, so we had to think about a proper shop."
The new wood-built shop was a real labour of love, as it was built mainly by Marie, her husband Barry and a friend.
"We moved into our new shop in June 2009 and the business has continued to grow.
"We still worked an honesty box initially, but I gave up my part-time work as a physiotherapist and became a self-employed sole trader in July."
Marie's suppliers include: Potatoes, Clarence Murray, Laurencekirk; Early potatoes, Heughhead, Friockheim; Carrots, leeks and cabbage, Mains of Bridgeton, St Cyrus; Heather and blossom honey from Honeyhill Farm, St Cyrus; Cheese from Cambus o' May Cheese, St Cyrus; Free range eggs, Tillygloom Farm, Brechin; Cauli, broccoli and Brussle Sprouts from Cross Farm, Carmylie and Soft fruit from Angus Soft Fruits, East Seaton, Arbroath.
As the business has expanded local suppliers who have come on board include Nicholson's Dairies, Inverbervie; Robertson Baker, Laurencekirk; Robertson Baker, Edzell; Wholesalers Turriff of Montrose and Mackay's Preserves, Arbroath.
Marie says: "I have a passion for supporting local farmers and businesses. I am hoping to stock meat very soon from a local supplier, subject of course to the customary local authority supervision.
"I now want to take the community side of the business a bit further. I am sure there are people out there who can supply me with what the market is demanding, which is produce which is local, fresh and from the land.
"There might be someone out there who is wanting to go into business and is looking for an outlet.
"Homegrown or homemade is what the people want and I might be able to open doors for people who want to get started.
"You may have a skill of making or growing produce. This could range from making cakes, tablet or ice cream, or having surplus vegetables, fruit or flowers in your garden.
"As a retailer I have a food safety management system in place that is monitored by the local council and anyone who thinks they might be able to assist me should pick up the phone and I can advise them how to go forward."
Contact Marie on 01561 378856 or email [email protected]