Deep in the pretty Suffolk countryside near Lavenham is Hollow Trees, a farm shop buzzing with shoppers and visitors all year round. It is also a farm and home to Sally Bendall who, together with her husband and fantastic team, welcomes hundreds of thousands of people a year to shop, eat, discover, and enjoy. YANA asked Sally to explain how Hollow Trees continue to evolve and what she does to look after her mental health to withstand the pressure of a huge ‘to-do list’ every day?
This is a very, very diversified farm. At the centre is our farm shop, butchery, and café. We also have a farm trail for visitors to explore. And we put on educational visits and host birthday parties and other celebrations. We have hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.
“Our shop has up to seventy types of home grown produce – vegetables, eggs, beef, pork, and so on. To complement that, we have a thousand other products which we source locally and regionally where we can, or nationally and even internationally for some items our customers want.
“We change the farm for trends we see. For example, because of the rising demand for our meat in our butchery, we’re growing more grass instead of cereal crops. That seems like we are bucking the trend when there’s so much talk about not eating meat. But our meat has a home-grown journey. Here at Hollow Trees, people can see the animals, they know how we care for them and can ask us questions. We have always been very open and proud of our agriculture.
“The appetite for good food is alive and well in Suffolk. One result of the pandemic is that more people realised we are here and what we sell. The result is we’ve made customers for life.
“We have a great team. What we do is 24/7, all year round. My husband and I live here in the middle of it all. I have ways of coping with the pressure. Every day, I take in all the challenges to deal with and then separate them into tasks. One lesson I’ve learned is that if you have something difficult to do, then do that first. It will stop it playing on your mind for the rest of the day.
“I always make sure we all have someone with similar interests or the right skills to go to for support. We prioritise communications and talking together, and our weekly team meetings are really useful.
“At this week’s meeting, we discussed our worries about this summer’s fire risk and dry weather and how to provide more shade for next season. It’s another pressure that Hollow Trees has got to adapt
to. We always have our customers in mind. That’s how Hollow Trees keeps ahead.”
- YANA will introduce you to more East Anglian farmers and growers bringing you fresh flavours of the season and sharing what they do to look after their mental health.
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