CPRE Kent has been highlighting the plight of rural businesses struggling to survive the coronavirus lockdown and encouraging as many people as possible to support them. Now a free website that promotes UK-made or designed consumer products has launched a home-delivery feature across the country. YouK enables users to “shop for everything that is made in the UK, from cheese to hand cream, jumpers to gin, beds to bikes”. “We launched a year ago last April with the simple idea to support all UK businesses,” said Janey Millar, of YouK. “Some 95 per cent of all UK businesses are already on the site, including thousands of innovative brands that are little known. We are particularly proud of the boost that small businesses can receive, and helping consumers discover them.” Derek Poots founded the website in Edinburgh. “UK businesses have responded magnificently to their customers’ needs,” he said. “They can deliver to you, and they need your support now, more than ever. Our site enables people to find home deliveries for products such as meat, breakfast cereal, soap and wine. It’s a win for everyone.” YouK has an interactive map, with search and filter functions at both national and local level. For example, you can see more than 700 UK breweries on the map, zoom down to your local area and filter by types of beer or see those that are gluten-free. “Each time we buy a national or local product we cut product miles, on average, by a factor of 10. And each local spending choice supports communities and local jobs and, in turn, all of our public services such as the NHS.” YouK earns commission on products bought through some links.
Many of our rural businesses will struggle to survive the coronavirus lockdown – some, it is fair to say, will go to the wall. Our support for such businesses has never been more crucial. Among so many other things, we value their independence, their courage and their ability to offer us something beyond the mainstream supermarket offering. We should not forget how important supermarkets have been during the lockdown – without them, it’s difficult to imagine how the system would not have broken down entirely. But… we love our smaller, independent operations and we would hate to witness them fold. This is an appeal to rally round them as much as we can. Many of course will not be able to host visitors or ‘shoppers’ – but some will be able to get their goods to us. An example is a shop operating from The Plough Inn at Stalisfield, near Faversham, which is taking food to the local community. You can order via email (email@example.com) and the goods are packed and prepared at the shop. When the order is ready, you will be called to collect it, with payment taken over the phone.
In the west of the county, we were given details of the situation in Cranbrook, where “the bakers, both butchers, the newsagent and DIY shop are all open, some with reduced hours, providing vital necessities”. Our caller continued: “Outside the town, both Cranbrook Farm Shop (at Charity Farm) and Hartley Farm Shop are offering online ordering and collection. “Cranbrook Fishmongers at Hartley Farm is open and offers deliveries to those who are self-isolating. Chittenden Farm Shop, near Staplehurst, is open, selling local fruit and vegetables, protecting the staff with a massive glass screen.” The county’s horticulture industry is also facing a hugely difficult time, with visitors unable to visit nurseries. Even increased mail order is unlikely to make up for lost sales from customers and plant fairs, all of which are cancelled. The following is not an exhaustive list but does detail some nurseries that are able to deliver plants to customers:
Madrona Nursery, Bethersden: can deliver orders within 10 miles (no charge) or further (small charge). Website: www.madrona.co.uk
Rapkyns Nursery, Broad Oak: catalogue on the website (www.rapkynsnursery.co.uk). Plants supplied by mail order or for collection or local delivery. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 07771 916933
Anne Gurr, Cranbrook: selling tomato plants by appointment from a stand on the Cranbrook/Tenterden road. Payment by bank transfer. Phone: 01580 713843
Bumbles Plant Centre, Cranbrook: delivery for orders of more than £50 and a click-and-collect service. Website: bumbles-plant-centre.co.uk
How Green Nursery, Edenbridge: ‘contactless’ delivery service. Email your order, pay by BACS and delivery will be to a dedicated drop-off point. Website: howgreennursery.co.uk
Bean Place Nursery, Headcorn: delivery service within 20 miles of Headcorn for orders of more than £25. Also click and collect via the website www.beanplace.co.uk. Collections from a designated spot at the nursery, or orders sent through the post for as long as permitted. It is hoped that open days planned for September will go ahead. See also new Facebook page. Phone: 07841 484822 or 07779 728378