A day in the life: Kate Forbes
From artisan gin to refillable milk from Belinda the Retired Cow – just an average day in the life of Kate Forbes of the Trading Post Farm Shop in Lopenhead
Kate Forbes (along with husband Andy) has only been running the Trading Post Farm Shop in Lopenhead, near Ilminster, for 18 months but they’ve already won Best Farm Shop in the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2018 and they’re currently finalists in the Shop of the Year in the Guild of Fine Foods Awards 2019. Selling everything from organic fruit/veg and local cheeses to world foods, refillable foodstuffs and toiletries from over 14o suppliers, let’s see how Kate juggles her balls …
Having set the alarm for 7, we’re woken early by our two crazy munchkins, five-year old Heathcliff and seven-year-old Meredith.
Dropping off the kids at school breakfast club en route, we arrive at the shop to be greeted by the aroma of freshly baked bread arriving from one of our three local bakers, followed closely behind by truckles of West Country cheeses. After selecting the cheese of the day, we try to avoid the deli counter for fear that we will scoff all the tasters before our customers come in.
The fresh pick arrives from the five-acre organic farm on which the shop is sited. The delicious herby scent from the salad and the squeaky, freshly picked cavelo nero really lift your spirits as you make plans for a healthier day ahead.
With over 140 suppliers on our books, every day brings a different delivery. Today we’re unpacking delicious pasta, pesto, honey and cakes from Italy and a delivery of local cider and snacks to fill our new dedicated snack area – cunningly located in the beer and cider ‘cellar’.
A double frozen delivery arrives and our freezer is soon filled with authentic Indian curries and homemade classic English dishes.
A customer walks in with a cookery book under his arm and a long shopping list – they’ve invited friends round for dinner and need to impress! As well as everyday foodstuffs, we sell ingredients – like preserved lemons, pomegranate molasses, fresh turmeric – that customers can’t find locally elsewhere.
Just about to grab a sandwich when someone newly diagnosed with a food intolerance comes in. Our gluten-free, dairy free, reduced sugar and vegan produce – including pasta, cheese, bread, biscuits and sauces – are dotted around the shop.
A customer pops in loaded with empty jars and bottles and heads straight to our Organic Refill Room to top up stuff like pulses, pasta and dried fruit. Buying loose is much cheaper than in pre packs and there’s no plastic waste.
I point out our refillable household products and toiletries and she leaves with a solid shampoo bar and a bath bomb – zero waste packaging, locally made and vegan.
Phone call from our local organic whole milk supplier to arrange a meeting to discuss delivery of the refillable bottles and dispensing fridge for their delicious milk – we can’t wait for the grand opening day of this new venture in a few weeks – especially the idea of our customers getting to meet Belinda the Retired Cow!
A new face appears clutching a box of greetings cards – a local artist wondering if we be interested in stocking her cards? As we support over 80 local suppliers, we have a good rummage through and choose a selection that we think our customers would love. We’ve always got gifty things in stock.
Back to the task in hand: preparing for a gin tasting day. We do a quick stock take and phone our lovely supplier to ask her to bring even more bottles as we don’t want to run out!
Half way through the afternoon and just in time for the evening rush we get a visit from our butcher who fills the fridge with a selection of bacon, chops, mince and steaks from his 174-acre woodland farm.
A flurry of customers come in on their way home from work to grab stuff for dinner and a bottle of something delicious and local to wash it down.
Close the doors and re-set the shop ready for the next day, glancing over the shelves to see what needs replenishing and placing our order for the fresh pick of organic veg for tomorrow morning.
Home for dinner and time with the kids. Today has been a good day so Andy is close behind so we sit down over a glass of Ice Cider, pay the day’s invoices, place orders for the next week and discuss what tomorrow will bring.
The Trading Post Farm Shop is open seven days a week, Mon to Sat 8.30am – 6pm and Sun 10am-2pm
The Trading Post Farm Shop, Lopenhead, Somerset, TA13 5JH thetradingpostfarmshop.co.uk