Generations of farming blood courses through the veins in our family, but my brother and I chose not to continue the tradition. The arrival of supermarkets in the 1970’s, turbulent market forces that were a direct consequence and the risks associated with high volume production that were required to achieve profitability were deciding factors in the choosing of other occupations. Watching our father work night and day, seven days a week and have 1 in 3 Sundays off – only to have to spend it with his mother-in-law (sorry Gran) was another big one!
Modern farming in the late twentieth century became one intensive production, where cost was all that mattered and profit was by no means guaranteed. This destabilised the traditionally reliable income that farmers previously enjoyed. Increased mechanisation increased overheads significantly. Increased regulation brought with it even more cost to the farmer – so only large scale operations justified the investment in compulsory compliance.
Although I didn’t choose to maintain the family tradition, there has always been a passion for the natural (and built) environment and the desire to do more personally to nurture sustainable communities: in fact it has become absolutely compelling. This current global pandemic has provided all of the impetus to do my bit now, to encourage and facilitate positive behavioural change and how we all perceive ‘value’ when we shop and the positive and negative impacts on the environment, personal health and the collective prosperity of our local and wider community.
Anecdotally, I recall being a rather excited 13 year old tomboy, standing in the farm kitchen one evening when my father had returned late again for ‘baggin’ (old Lancashire dialect). There was nothing unusual about this as there was always a pig ‘piggin’ or some emergency to attend to. I still had much to learn about how and when’ to share information with my father – he could be incredibly brutal in his criticism. However, with the excitement of new independence impossible to contain, I shared with him my big news that I’d got a Sunday job. My father proceeded to feign shock and fall, theatrically from his chair and asked
“What time does’t tha start in a mornin’?”
I replied “errr..9am”.
He arose from the chair that he’d staggered back to previously and proceeded to march out of the back door toward the farm in disgust, muttering as he went.
“I thowt tha said tha’d gett’n a job? I thowt tha were gonna tell me tha’d gett’n a milk round – tha’s not got a job at all, tha’s getten a paid ‘oliday!”
That was the last time I shared career information with him. I knew there was only one career which would ever be worthy of respect in his eyes. I was acutely aware that milk and other doorstep deliveries were in decline during the 1980’s for the same reasons that farm production had changed. Supermarkets used milk as a loss leader to lure shoppers into their stores where they would then purchase other more profitable goods so it was worth it to the supermarket. It’s a practice which prevails. The consequences have always been that the farmer is paid little for his high volume produce – and many choose not to farm, as we did.
Very few farms actually bottle their own produce. The farm which supplies us, Derby Hill Dairy at Weeton village has been owned by the Bradley family since 1850. They both produce and bottle their milk. They have won numerous awards for milk, flavoured milk and butter and are RSPCA. A couple of years ago, I learned that the farm has 20 direct employees from the local community. Three sons from one family in Weeton village are all employed by the Bradleys at the farm. John Bradley joked at the time when he told me that he’d ‘put in a request’ to the mother of the three, that she has more children of excellent calibre so that they can play an important team role in sustaining the traditional farm business for future generations. I know John, and I reckon he actually did ask her! I’d like to have heard her response. Although, I’m certain she is very proud to know just how valued by their employer her children are.
So, after decades of supermarket dominance and control of the market we are going to offer direct supply of local produce to doorsteps in Lytham St Annes and do our little bit towards reducing food miles in transportation, packaging and waste and help to maintain and even create local economic growth. By supporting the local economy we help ourselves and tread lighter upon the planet. Since the latter part of the last century, we have all been lured into unsustainable patterns of behaviour. Habits can change for the good. We can all be part of a sustainable future where the perceived ‘value’ of our purchase is about much more than a special offer or click ‘price’ and that a product should be much more than a ‘triumph of marketing’.
Lytham St Anne’s Doorstep Deliveries – More than just a delivery service! 💚 🌍
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