08 July 2020, 09:00 AM
  • Nina Matsunaga and James Ratcliffe plan to sell local produce from Three Hares Bakery after the pandemic made it impossible to reopen their café
Dales café transforms into a farm shop and deli after Covid-19

Three Hares Bakery in Sedbergh has transformed from a café and bistro into a farm shop and deli in response to the changing landscape for retailers caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Owners Nina Matsunaga and James Ratcliffe had already been considering creating a small farm shop and deli at the request of customers, who continually asked where they could buy the artisan produce they used at their sister business The Black Bull.

When Covid-19 hit, all plans were put on hold as they worked out how to operate in the challenging new environment. Even with the gradual lifting of restrictions and the relaxation of the two-metre social distancing guidelines, James says they quickly realised that they wouldn’t be able to open Three Hares as a café and bakery.

“So, after some pretty careful thought we decided to run with the idea of opening up as a farm shop and deli and meet our customers’ produce requests,” James says. “We’ve got everything in place pretty quickly, but we’ve deliberately focused on selling produce that only we use, at the same time trying to ensure that we don’t impact anyone else’s trade.

“Fingers crossed people like what we’ve created and enjoy the products we’ve chosen to sell.’’

Products on sale at Three Hares Bakery include freshly baked sourdough breads and quality locally reared farm-bred meat, including Mansergh Hall pork and Howgill Herdwick and British cross shorthorn beef and home-made sausages created by Nina. A selection of foraged ingredients, including herbs, berries and edible flowers, will also be stocked, alongside award-winning British charcuterie from Trealy Farm, sustainably sourced fish from Hodgson’s Fish and smoked wild fish from Woodcock Smokery.

British artisan cheeses such as Hebden Goat, Leeds Blue, Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, St James and Thornby Moor Dairy will also take pride of place on Three Hares’ shelves.

Organic, biodynamic and natural wines from around the globe will be featured, as well as local selections such as sparkling mead from the Northumberland Honey Co and a range of craft beers including offerings from Fell and Hesket Newmarket Brewery.

Alongside the produce, Nina and James have created a range of ready-to-eat and frozen meals, including Japanese curries, homemade stews and chilis, as well as a range of pickles, kimchi and chutneys. In their new farm shop, the pair have identified a new route to market for their business which can respond to customer demand and ensure continued growth.

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