Claire Daw, daughter to Barry and Jenny Daw and owner of Dawlicious Jersey Ice Cream tells us how, when faced with adversity after a farm fire and the onset of Covid19, how the local community has rallied round and their local customer base is growing even more….
“Two nights before lockdown begun – before furlong, isolation, social distancing and Covid 19 weren’t a part of every sentence we say – we sat down for a pastaless spaghetti bolognaise to watch the first Britain’s Got Talent. It had been a busy day with customers stocking up, panicking about lockdown and being unable to come out and get food after Monday, with Barry and Jenny also away visiting their Son Robert in Surrey for a cider in the park as it should have been his stag do.
I got a call from a local farmer’s husband Tom on his way to pick up fish and chips asking me if we were having a burn up. My response of what!? Clearly indicated we weren’t having any burn up and it was in fact a large fire on our farm. We quickly ran over the farm to see our straw stack of 350 sheeted bales of lovely dry barley straw completely taken by flames. The fire crew responded very quickly and soon were out to get it under control. To this day we are so thankful the wind was blowing away from the farm and across the road. If it was blowing towards the farm the unimaginable could well have happened and the whole farm could have been lost. Unfortunately, this was the doing of a group of children who had been around the village causing petty nuisance all week. Children that shouldn’t off been out anyway especially in large groups due to the virus. We since learn that two of the young persons have now written statements admitting they caused the fire. It wasn’t targeted at us specifically they just thought it would be a fun bit of entertainment!
Well since this happened the support from family, friends, fellow farmers and our local community has been outstanding. We had several bags of pasta turn up, multiple offers of straw, hundreds of offers of help and thousands of lovely comments, words of reassurance and support in people coming and buying our produce.
Two days after the fire lockdown begun and we were very unsure of how this would affect all of our businesses. Fortunately, our Milk buyer Davis and Parsons have worked tirelessly trying to find buyers for our milk and has remained able to collect our milk 3 times a week. Although it has been sold at a lower price we are grateful we never had to sole destroyingly pour it down the drain and the future looks bright with new opportunities arising.
Our raw milk sales on farm however, have made up for the loss in bulk milk sales. We have been doing around double the quantity through our vending machines on farm with a huge support from the local community who would rather come and visit our farm for milk, eggs and ice cream than visit the supermarkets and once they noticed the difference they were hooked.
To adhere with the governments guidelines, we have done a strict 1 customer in the milk shed at one time with hand sanitizers and wipes to use before and after. People have to keep 2 meters apart at all times while waiting outside the shed and we often collect items for vulnerable customers so they don’t have to get out of the car. We tried putting the machines outside too while we redid the flooring. People really liked the machines outside on a nice day but in the rain it wasn’t so easy and they generally where a lot harder to keep clean! We had to sacrifice an old grains pit which had calves in and make our car park bigger to allow more cars in off the road.
We have had a huge increase in families visiting and watching the cows and general day to day life and they are finally appreciating where food comes from and the effort that goes into it. Barry now has quite a fan club of under 5 year olds…although he says it’s the mums that comes to watch him really! With all the zoos, farm parks and animal centres shut we’ve had a lot of struggling autistic families come up to see the cows and have been eternally grateful for the help in calming their children. Selling the milk on the farm has been a life saver for us and its extremely rewarding albeit extremely hard work with it becoming a near fulltime job for someone.
I have been making ice cream on farm using our cow’s milk now for over 5 years and have built up a brilliant number of events throughout the summer months with something on every weekend from May to September. Due to the virus all these events and weddings are now cancelled and postponed to next year which was a huge hit to my business. Not only events but with the restaurants being shut, all my hospitality trade dried up overnight – a few days before Mother’s day being one of the busiest days for any restaurant.
I have been exceptionally lucky that since lockdown begun the sun has shone nearly every day and whether the sun is out, people want ice cream. I’ve invented some new flavours and the word has spread locally to now sell a large amount from the farm. Local delis’ farm shops and village stores have stocked the ice cream and even some restaurants have turned into convenience stored for the local community. Seeing this surge in 480ml tubs has led to me purchasing a potting machine which will make the job a lot quicker and easier.
We hope as the world goes back to a form of ‘normality’ that customers will continue to support our business and other local business who have made a huge effort to support them throughout the pandemic.
Click here to find out more about Claire’s Dawlicious Ice Cream product range and raw milk in our Jersey Producers Directory.