Jimmy Doherty, Suffolk farmer and retailer.

“Attracting audiences”

When we started the farm 15 years ago, our vision was to produce high quality meat from the rare-breed, free-range pigs we traditionally reared on our acreage in Suffolk. 15 years may not seem a long time ago, but anyone in the farming industry knows they need to build resilience into their business plans to maintain stability and sustainability

Diversification is the magic word. Jimmy’s Farm is now a brand in its own right with a range of offerings to suit an equally broad range of markets. Weekends bring families with young children to the Wildlife Park, which we’ve grown from keeping domestic stock to now including exotic animals and a butterfly house.

During the summer, we attract a whole new demographic whilst hosting the annual Red Rose Chain Theatre Company’s outdoor production in our ancient woodland. They are able to eat in our restaurant for a pre-theatre supper and get a taste of what we can offer all year round. Along with our concessionary shops and activities such as Joules, Clarkes of Walsham country store and Notcutts Garden Centre, we actively seek out ways to bring new people our way.

Perhaps our most broad reaching of all activities is our education programme. Over the last year, over 5000 students have joined us for educational visits. We offer tailored experience which educate and inspire at any level. All aspects of the business are represented and we take a no-holds barred approach, and if a group wants something specific we do our best to provide it. From pond-dipping, nature walks and forest education to farm education, animal husbandry and butchery, there is so much on offer.

In addition to educational groups, we offer experiences to corporate groups and businesses; again making sure they experience everything we have to offer. A typical day might include some team exercises such as den building, followed by sausage making and a hearty munch in our restaurant.

All of these bring new people into the heart of Jimmy’s Farm and not only show them what we do, but bring them into the fold and give them the opportunity to ‘live’ a little of farm life. The returns on this kind of activity for the overall business are clear to see. So many visitors return to the farm and bring family members and friends with them. Diversification in business is not only diversifying what you do, but also diversifying how you tell people. A programme of activities and ‘hands-on’ products really do create a new customer base who are emotionally invested and what you do. Don’t be afraid to give it a go!

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