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Coombe Farm

Changing the way we do things

1st April 2020
Changing the way we do things

It is safe to say that the last 3 weeks have turned all of our lives upside down.

I recall driving into the office in January, hearing Radio 4 discussing the outbreak of a virus in China. I took a trip to Dublin in early February to watch the Rugby and take in the delights of Temple Bar and the Guinness factory - blissfully unaware of the imminent disruption to travel, sporting events and social gatherings.

Skip forward to April 1st - only a fool would try to brush off the severity of what is currently happening throughout the world and how challenging 2020 will become for so many. The impact of Coronavirus on Coombe Farm Organic seems fairly insignificant when you consider how life will change for so many in the coming weeks and months. People losing family members to a virus that doesn’t appear to have any prejudice when striking folk down. NHS and other Key Workers putting themselves at risk to take care of us and support the core elements of day to day life. And businesses that have had to shut down and wait out the storm, hoping that their reserves and the funds being put forward by the government are enough to keep them afloat. It is a testing time right now and the longer term financial impact is yet to be considered by most.

It has been a double-edged sword for us. Our cafe sits empty and the plans for supper clubs and festivals the team had worked so hard on, all sit by the wayside. However, on the contrary our online business has flourished, but this has brought about it's own challenges and I thought now might be a good time to update you in a little more detail.

We have sent out record numbers of boxes, dealt with record numbers of emails and phone calls - but also had to make a record number of apologies with record lows in terms of stock availability. In reality, in our quest to try and meet demand we allowed orders to be taken for too long without adjusting our business model sufficiently to account for it, and have had to temporarily stop taking new orders as a result. This was the hardest decision I’ve had to take in the 5 years since I set the business; we did not want to let any customers down nor contribute to any uneasiness amongst them.

However, our model works by only selling produce that we have butchered, packed, labelled and booked in. Our farmers continue to provide us with a steady stream of animals. By Monday of this week, we had sold ahead by 14 working days and things were not letting up. So we effectively had 2 weeks worth of produce at absolute capacity in our freezers, but no space to put replacement stock, and only 50% of the lines we sell available to purchase on the website. Yikes!!!

We are working around the clock to boost stock levels and having given it some thought, will be adjusting the way we take orders whilst the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to shape the way we all live our lives.

From Monday 6th April, we will be making a significant but limited number of delivery slots available over a 6 day period and then pausing to fulfil them and restock. We will continue to do this each week and the notion of ordering well in advance will not be possible. This way we can ensure that we do not compromise on the quality or provenance of the produce we sell and that our team is working in a safe environment during what is an unnerving time for all of us.

We will email on Monday to let you know when the site is back up and running and will honour all existing orders taken. Subscriptions and Click & Collect orders will continue to be on hold until further notice.

We believe that it is the most sustainable, responsible and realistic way of running our business during these unprecedented times. If you have any questions, please send them to us at: [email protected]

I’d like to thank you all for being so patient and supportive.

With love and best wishes to you and your families.

Ben and the Coombe Farm Organic Team.