Craigies Farm, named after West Craigie Farm where it is based, has been a family-run farm since it was established in 1966. Owner John Sinclair tells us about their past, present and future.
“As a fourth-generation farmer, farming has always been in my blood. Taking over from my parents in 1995, my wife Kirsteen and I have turned around a struggling beef and dairy farm to develop a thriving soft fruit and vegetable growing business and farm village that now welcomes 260,000 visitors each year.”
Lockdown meant some significant changes would have to be made, but they were still determined to serve those that needed them most. “We worked quickly to bring in safe social distancing measures when we knew the shop could remain open for essential shopping and we created a protected shopping hour for older customers.
“We also acted swiftly to set up an online food delivery service to ensure that we could still provide for the community and our loyal customers, many of whom would have been shielding initially. We have since professionalised what was a basic order form with no more than 60 items and created an online shop with more than 300 items!”
All the while they have been communicating very actively on social media, email newsletters and through their website to keep everyone updated on the many changes taking place. And this has led to some unplanned digital innovation! “We are now selling tickets through a new online ticketing service for our popular Pick-Your-Own events and our café which has just recently opened.”
Like many other businesses, recent months have shown the strength of local communities. “The support from the communities around us has been overwhelming with many customers staying with us throughout. We've even been able to welcome new customers to Craigies who had never been out to the farm but whose first introduction was our online delivery service.”
And it’s not just the customers. “Our team have been incredible, working harder than ever and always smiling, including my son and daughter who have been back at home and helping out! The experience has brought the whole team closer together.”
Many of their favourite and most popular products are local to Edinburgh too, including the Edinburgh Butter Company who produce delicious Scottish butter made from locally sourced ingredients; Super Nature’s infused oils; Edinburgh Food Social’s Spring Gin and Findlaters Fine Foods’ dips and pates.
Making big changes in extraordinary circumstances isn’t always plain sailing, but they’re taking what they’ve learnt and are looking to the future. “Pivoting the business to offer an online food order service was a steep learning curve and configuring a delivery schedule with a multitude of EH postcodes may have caused the odd headache!
“We will keep our online shop and delivery service as there is still a strong demand for high-quality home-grown and local produce. We also keep delivering key parts of the business digitally as this has made us more agile and has freed up staff time.”
Hopes for the future
Like us, John is optimistic that we can have a positive future that focuses on local. “I would like to think that more people will be thinking locally and will support the small, independent businesses around them before bigger brands and multinationals. The Scottish economy will be in recovery mode for some time and needs the community to rally round.”
Craigies Farm continues to provide fresh local produce, online and in store. Their cafe and farm visits are now open for visitors too, with online booking available. Find out everything you need to know on their website.
Cragies Farm are taking part in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Diners at Craigies Cafe and Food Truck customers will enjoy a 50% discount, worth up to £10 per head, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August - providing same delicious homemade Craigies produce, at an amazing discount! Customers can book a table in the Cafe via the Craigies website.
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