Case Study: Ayrshire Food Hub
Can you tell us a bit about your business?
We opened the doors to our community farm shop and café in late spring 2021. Ayrshire Food Hub celebrates the very best of the fresh, local, and often unique produce that surrounds us. Amazing Ayrshire produce is at the heart of our dishes in the café, while our farm shop stocks fresh fruit and veg, a Morton’s milk vending machine, a zero-waste dispenser, and plenty of pantry staples from the west of Scotland and further afield.
Uniquely, all our proceeds go towards our charity work. Our parent organisation, Crossroads Community Hub, produces thousands of emergency meals every month, and runs community groups and classes throughout the local area.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned over the last few years?
Having so many aspects to our project, we are used to changing plans and reacting to the various challenges that come our way. That being said, the level of adaptability that has been required over the past few years has been huge. Along with learning to possess this level of adaptability comes a certain amount of resilience, but also a lot of faith gained in talented and hardworking people. It’s this resilience, talent, and hard work have been fundamental to the success of the Hub.
And what opportunities are you looking forward to grasping in the coming years?
Witnessing people meeting up to socialise again has been a joy to watch. Our café and farm shop provide a safe and relaxed spot for casual get togethers over breakfast or lunch. But our Hub is also home to a flexible community space. We are really looking forward to hosting a whole range of groups and events there. Cooking classes, craft fairs, and community groups will all be welcomed to the Hub. A rural backdrop, a growing community garden, and quality local food and drink will be ever-present at the functions we host.
One positive to come out of the events of the past couple of years is that an entrepreneurial spark seems to have been ignited. The amount of new food and drink businesses that have popped up is so impressive! We stock products from several fledgling businesses and look forward to discovering new ones as the year goes on.
What is your favourite thing about Scotland’s food and drink industry?
Scotland’s food and drink industry repeatedly shows that it has all the attributes needed to make the most of the country’s incredible natural larder. Care, attention, innovation, and talent are always obvious. There is great satisfaction in knowing that Scotland’s chefs, cooks, caterers, and foodie entrepreneurs are best placed to take advantage of such fantastic produce. We are a country with a history of innovative thinkers and creators – our food and drink scene reflects that perfectly.
Why is it important for consumers to support Scottish producers?
In supporting Scottish producers, the consumer ends up with fresher produce that has travelled fewer miles. Not only does that mean that they get to enjoy better quality food and drink, but the reduced food miles cuts carbon emissions significantly. Recent months have seen several headlines about food shortages in supermarkets. Farm shops and high street food retailers have been quick to point out that their shelves have continued to be well-stocked. Consumers may be surprised about the abundance of great produce on offer from their local, independent shops. Regularly visiting your local shops or contacting local producers can lead to customers discovering some really interesting and unique products; after all, many of these producers are specialists in what they do.
We have world-renowned food and drink in Scotland. Our seafood, spirits, cheeses, butchery – among other things – all enjoy an amazing reputation. It’s important to make the most of it.
Finally, how are you celebrating this Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?
During this year’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, we will be going further with our promotion of local producers. We will launch our series of feature articles on our website – offering the opportunity for our suppliers to talk about themselves and their products. Getting to know the people and processes behind the produce can bring a new level of appreciation from consumers. It’s not just the skills and hard work that would be given attention, but the importance of local customers to these independent, often family-run businesses. This introduction to our suppliers will lead to a Meet the Makers event later this Autumn.
We’re proud to support and promote our amazing Scottish suppliers, and love being able to celebrate our role in the country’s food and drink industry as part of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2021!