Calling on Cornwall’s community spirit

We can’t quite believe that it’s the beginning of May already, but that marks a good time, perhaps, to reflect on how everyone has fared in the last month of lockdown. 

We probably all know by now someone close to home who has suffered with the Covid-19 virus. This is when it becomes so real and frightening.  Saving lives is, of course, the number one priority for everyone. Yet in all of this, we’ve also been incredibly mindful about Cornish farmers, fishermen and our other local producers.

They have had the toughest of times, with as much as 80% of their market collapsing overnight when restaurants, pubs, cafes and hotels closed and the holiday market stopped. Yet the produce still grows and ripens, animals still need to be reared, cows still produce milk and hens haven’t stopped laying eggs. Food production is a long term investment that can’t be turned off with the flick of a switch.   

Much of the money previously spent on eating out has of course transferred to the supermarkets, which have experienced a major uplift in sales as a consequence, often resulting in shortages on the shelf. So why can’t farmers just switch things around and sell their excess produce to the supermarkets? Sadly, while this has happened to a degree, life isn’t that simple. Supplying a supermarket usually means undergoing a rigorous accreditation check and often involves a complex distribution network.  It doesn’t happen overnight and also often involves significant volumes – much greater than a single grower/farmer/fisherman can produce.

This is why it’s been such good news that people have continued to use shops like ours, and other outlets for local produce, such as farm/village shops, box schemes, online shops of the suppliers and roadside pop-ups.  Even collectively, the volumes we all sell won’t ever make up completely for the loss of the hospitality market, but in these times we take the view that if we all do what we can to help each other, we’ll resurface stronger than we otherwise might.

The current lockdown will be lifted, albeit steadily, and we cautiously look forward to a re-opening of the Great Cornish Food Store.  We know things won’t ever be quite the same again and we’re all going to have to get used to a “new norm”, whatever that may be.  But we hope that Cornwall’s incredible community spirit will ensure that the county’s pristine environment, thriving farming, food and drink sector and the precious wider economy survive to flourish once again.  

Let’s stay safe, be helpful to our neighbours and be supportive of our local businesses as much as we can.  Maybe even pick crops if you’re fit, willing and able!