‘They have supported us’ - Local farm shop gives back to the community
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
For Ruth Goudy, coronavirus lockdown was a way to give back to a community that has long supported her and her business.
Mrs Goudy and her husband Paul run the Kiln Farm Nursery in Kesgrave.
The nursery is home to both a garden centre and a farm shop, and it was the latter that would become key to the couple’s local community during lockdown.
It was on the eve of lockdown, however, that Mrs Goudy and her husband realised that they would have to change how their business worked.
“That night Paul and I looked at each other and didn’t know what to do,” she said.
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“At 5am we made a plan - we decided to keep the farm shop open. We would have to do it by delivery or collection.”
The couple, along with members of staff from the shop, started putting together foodboxes to help feed members of the local community who might now struggle to get out and about.
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“We thought, ‘we are going to do our bit’,” said Mrs Goudy.
“There are so many people who need food and can’t get out.
“We were lucky we were able to do something.”
Five members of staff came in to help start off the new foodboxes by taking orders over the phone before picking and packing the goods.
It was a new way of working.
“We became like a little factory,” said Mrs Goudy.
“I made sure everyone was safe.”
On the first day of offering the food boxes, there were 15-20 orders.
By the next week, however, the garden centre’s phoneline got busier and busier and orders were up to 70 boxes a day.
“We were working 14 hour days,” said Mrs Goudy.
“It was a team effort but it was nothing compared to what the NHS were doing.
“It was lovely to do something for our community.”
Needing more help to keep going, Mrs Goudy got in touch with Kesgrave Town Council who were able to help them out with more volunteers.
The demand became so high at times that the garden centre had to have a volunteer guard the gate to help people trying to get hold of the foodboxes.
“People were frustrated,” said Mrs Goudy.
However, there were a group of people who did impress with their behaviour - a number of teenagers that came forward to help with the shop’s endeavours.
As well as helping feed her community, Mrs Goudy was also trying to keep up people’s spirits.
She writes and blogs under the name The Flower Writer, with much of her work focusing on flowers and plants.
During lockdown she used her social media presence to help spread positivity through talking about and sharing pictures of nature.
“We have a little group of us posting pictures of plants to keep people happy,” said Mrs Goudy.
Eventually, as restrictions relaxed things got easier and the couple were able to reopen the garden centre.
“We kept the food boxes going at the same time,” said Mrs Goudy.
“Now we are able to open a bit more. It’s calming down.”
With people coming back to the garden centre, albeit in reduced numbers, Mrs Goudy set up a YouTube channel to give gardeners old and new advice.
The channel provides simple guides to various garden tasks such as arranging hanging baskets and planting trees in different conditions.
With the business to run, as well as other projects, long shifts and hundreds of orders a week, what was it that kept Mrs Goudy and her team motivated to keep going through the pandemic?
For the team at the nursery it was just a way to help a community that had backed their business from day one.
“We felt it was our responsibility to the community,” said Mrs Goudy.
“We started 17 years ago. If we had not had the support of the community over the years we would not be here.
“It’s being part of the community. It’s important to look after one and other.
“They have kept coming and supporting us.
“They have looked after us.”