The Black Cat Farm Shop:
c/o Roxton Garden Centre
Beds. MK44 3DY
The Farm Shop is located in a wooden cabin at the far end of the car park.
Please note, our Vegetables are ‘Fresh, Seasonal, Local’. They are NOT Organic, but grown using as few pesticides and herbicides as possible.
Sue Lang had been running her own Honey and homemade Preserves business for 5 years, when in September 2014 she was approached by the owners of ‘Garden Friends Vegetable Box Scheme and Farm Shop’ about buying the Farm Shop. Val and Mark were going to retire, but knowing of Sue’s long held wish to have her own shop, they asked if she’d like to take it on as a going concern. Of course the answer was yes! She would have loved to have taken on the veg box scheme too, but it was too much to do single handed.
The shop has been based at Roxton Garden Centre since 2009, and Val and Mark wanted it to continue to be the place locally where people could buy fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit, and also be a ‘depot’ to buy or collect other essential items. This included meat, cheese, bread and locally crafted items.
Sue took up the challenge, and has been at the shop for over 5 years now. She has thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know all her suppliers, and also getting to know her customers, both existing and new. It is still a novelty after years of doing farmers markets to be able to turn up to work, and the shop is all set up, ready to go. Whilst it was cold in the winter time, it was dry, and not windy – both things she really didn’t enjoy about the markets.
The mantra of the shop is ‘Fresh, Local, Seasonal’. So please do not be upset if you cannot buy bananas, lemons, oranges and other fruits and vegetables out of season.
Expansion of the shop – summer 2017
One of Sue’s biggest frustrations was that she wasn’t able to be productive if the shop was quiet. As she made all the preserves for the shop, she had to continue to make these at home, so never really got proper days off.
She decided to expand the shop and build a kitchen/storage area so that as well as opening 5 days a week, she could make the preserves on site on quieter days. Her garage and kitchen at home are a lot emptier now that everything is stored on site.
Funding came from her own savings, plus generous donations from friends and family, plus customers via an appeal with ‘Crownfunder’. The interior work was completed by Sue’s brother (Stamford Interiors) and is now used every week to make and store the shop’s preserves.
Impact of COVID-19 on the shop – March to July 2020
The last week before the COVID-19 lock-down in the UK was very hard in the shop. People had started panic buying foodstuffs, Sue had never had as many customers before. Self distancing was impossible, and the risk of catching and passing on the virus was high. On Sunday March 22nd Sue decided to close the shop to customers and concentrate on veg box delivery side of the business. Within a week she had to close her doors to new customers – she had gone from around 20 deliveries to over 90. Bearing in mind that she runs the business single handed, this was the absolute limit she could cope with.
Thanks must be extended to customers (and now great friends) David, Peter, Adrian and Gillian who volunteered to deliver veg boxes for her, and also to husband Danny who helped her to build the boxes during his time on furlough.
Box numbers gradually declined as people gained confidence in using the supermarkets again. At the end of May the numbers had reached a point when Sue could consider reopening the shop. A new floor and new lights were fitted in the shop end (seemed sensible whilst it was empty), and the shop was restocked and opened again on Wednesady 3rd June 2020.
The shop is only open 4 days a week (Weds – Sat) to allow Sue the time to fulfil the veg box deliveries for customers who are still shielding.