Waugh Brow Farm, Mobberley is finding new ways to thrive

PUBLISHED: 19:06 02 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:00 20 February 2013

Ruth and Georgina Jones

Ruth and Georgina Jones

A Mobberley farm is continuing to lead the way in finding new ways to thrive, as Paul Mackenzie reports Photography by Kirsty Thompson

There was a time when farming was the backbone of Cheshire with farms all over the county surviving on what they produced. But in recent decades farmers have been forced to find other ways of keeping their businesses afloat.

Across the county, farms are attracting visitors in all sorts of ways but one of the first to branch out was Waugh Brow Farm at Mobberley. Back in 1985 they opened a farm shop to sell their meat and throughout the difficult years farming has faced they have tried to stay ahead of the game.

Ruth Jones, who runs the 100 acre farm with husband, David, said: It was a very new thing when we started with the farm shop. We were selling our own beef and pork and locally sourced lamb and it was a challenge to persuade people to buy food at the farm gate rather than the supermarket.

It was a challenge they overcame though and over time the range grew to include preserves, pickles and other items.

The customer base grew, Ruth added. We tried to make it more of an experience than just a trip to the shop. People would come and wander round and see the animals.

The farm saved us really. Farming has changed so much in the last 50 years or so that diversification is a must for farms our size to survive. We would get customers who wanted to give meat and pickles to friends as gifts so about ten years ago I started to produce gift hampers.

The hampers sold well through the shop but when daughter Georgina returned to the farm after a decade working in recruitment, she saw an opportunity. The Happy Herd Hampers were renamed Box Clever and they went onto the internet. E-commerce is a huge area, said Georgina. Some big firms around Cheshire are loyal customers of ours and they give the hampers to their staff and clients. We are now using the internet to reach a greater number of people.

An awful lot of people do hampers but very few can say that so much of the produce comes from their own farm or from a few miles away. We also pride ourselves on offering a personalised service.

The hampers are filled with a combination of home-grown farm produce and artisan products from around the country not available on the high street. This includes truffles, champagne, pates, biscuits, fine tea blends, chocolate.

And 26-year-old Georgina added: I grew up on the farm and I have seen how much hard work my parents put in and it is fantastic for me to be able to return to my roots and be involved in helping develop the business. We are in a great position now the hampers accounted for 40 per cent of our overall turnover in 2011 and we are always trying to innovate but I think its important for us to continue to do what we do well, breeding good meat and putting high quality hampers together.

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