The Black Cat Farm Shop was opened in October 2014 - based in a small wooden cabin in the grounds of a garden centre. The cabin had previously been used as an outlet for a local vegetable box scheme. It's called the 'Black Cat' because it is just off the [in]famous Black Cat Roundabout on the A1/A421 junction.
Specialising in Fresh, Seasonal, Local produce, we mainly sell Vegetables and Fruits, but also selling a wide range of locally produced foodstuffs - Bread, Cheese, Honey & Preserves, Rapeseed Oil, Bread Flour, Apple Juice, Coffee, Cakes and Quiches, and other locally crafted items. We support over 20 local small businesses.
A little bit of history......
The shop is owned and run by Sue Lang. Sue worked in the catering and brewing industries for 25 years, but after being offered redundancy, turned her hobby of beekeeping and preserve making into a small business. She spent the next 5 years attending farmers markets and craft fairs selling her honey and beeswax products, homemade jams, marmalades and chutneys, and also teaching beekeeping and cookery courses.
In 2014, Val and Mark who owned and ran 'Garden Friends' vegetable box scheme and Farm Shop decided to retire. They offered to sell her the farm shop, and Sue jumped at the chance of having a permanent base.
From having challenging weather at the markets, life in the cabin has its challenges too - freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer - but that's part of what the project will help with.
Where we are now.....
Sue's had the shop for 2 years now, and is enjoying building up her customer base, and also working with her suppliers to provide the best quality products possible.
Currently the shop is open 3.5 days a week. As Sue continues to look after her bees, and also make all the preserves sold in the shop, she cannot open any more days - the cabin is 4.7m by 5.7m and currently has no water or waste connected. This means she has to do a lot of cooking at home (where she is registered as a Food Business).
The project is going to be able to do several things:
Expand the selling space, including some 'serve over' fridges - allowing more 'deli' type products to be stocked such as cheese and olives.
Create a 'working' space with extra fridge, freezer, cooker and washing up facilites - Sue can then make all the preseves on site, rather than at home. She can also expand the range of cakes and savoury items, and bake several times a week. Sue will also be able to host small groups for things such as breadmaking courses.
Kit the new area out to Environmental Services standards (washable floor, ceiling, walls), and insulation to keep the cabin warmer in winter, and cooler in summer.
Employ someone part time so that Sue can get regular days off, working 7 days a week is fine, but she doesn't get much time with her husband!
The rewards are based on the shops products, and events that we will be able to do once the building work is done and the the equipment installed.
Please help Sue to fund this project - the Farm Shop is the only one of its kind within a 10 mile radius, and whilst it provides a great service already, it can do so much more. Thank you!