My experience is from growing up on Dartmoor, where at the moment many of the farms are entirely dependent on the subsidy to survive. What they would like is to follow our model in terms of accessing those local markets, but the nearest abattoir is 25 to 30 miles away—there used to be one five to 10 miles away. If there was a nearer abattoir or a co-operatively-managed meat hanging facility where they could store meat after it has been to the abattoir and then bring it back for processing within the local community, thereby cutting the distance the product has to travel, that would certainly help.
There are also things like local food market infrastructure. You used to have traditional farmers’ markets regularly within each market town. Now the infrastructure does not exist, but if spaces could be set up every Saturday for farmers to get out and market their wares to the local community, that would be a massive step in the right direction. So the infrastructure is quite important, but retail opportunities are also key for those farmers.
We also need to think about skills and training, because a lot of farmers—certainly my neighbours—traditionally do not think they are born marketers; they are happy to stick to the farming. However, they have got many skills, and increasingly consumers want to know the story of where their food comes from. Consumers increasingly want traceability and accountability in the food system. What we demonstrate through our system is that our consumers get to know us personally and support us for a whole season. By doing that, they invest in the farm and—not only that—they have a strong sense of accountability for where their food comes from. Moving forward, that provides a really robust business model.