Recently I caught up with Sarah Evans of Watery Lane Produce, a new on-farm business start up producing vegetable boxes selling direct to the customer, based near Wrexham. Here’s some insight on how it all started:
How did Watery Lane come about?
‘We had been thinking for a while of different ideas of things that I could do at home- from crafty things, baking to even a vinery or beer brewing, but none really took my fancy. Then we watched a national organic online course on how to grow and make money in a poly-tunnel, the case study was based in Ireland.
After the series of lockdowns, I had developed some green fingers from gardening and thought veg is similar to flowers and its outside, at home and I was interested, so we decided to just go for it! ‘
What is the businesses ethos and who is your customer?
My business ethos is that I am growing organically or purchasing organic produce from a wholesale who prides itself on providing seasonal sustainable fresh produce. No air miles are used and produce is picked to order to minimise waste across all levels. All the produce is also sourced as locally as possible, reducing carbon footprint. My customers are those who share this ethos.
How do you fit time into your business whilst raising a family?
My first year in the business was a juggle at times. Much was learnt but on the whole it worked really well. Apart from Tuesday afternoons for a short while, late Wednesday afternoons and early Thursday mornings (these are ordering, receiving and delivering times) the rest is extremely flexible particularly in winter, early spring and late autumn.
The other times I may need to sharpen up my act, but I get in the poly tunnel early during holidays in the summer to ensure that I can be free later in the day to be with the children. Thankfully vegetables don’t need the same looking after as livestock so it works well!
What’s your favourite thing to grow or produce?
I have enjoyed growing the tomatoes, sugar snap peas, cucumbers and runner beans – they all cropped well and I could have a munch whilst harvesting. They all tasted far better than anything purchased in the supermarket. I had forgotten that cucumbers actually had a taste until I grew my own!
I think my enjoyment for growing these has also come from the fact that I won best tomatoes in 2 local shows and best tomato truss, and best cucumber in my local show too!
What does the future look like for the business?
I would like to increase my orders more but at the same time make my growing more efficient. I learnt a lot last year and this year I simply want to improve on that. If I can refine my practices then things will run more smoothy and I can buy less in and make more profit!
What do you like to cook? Could you provide a recipe using some of your ingredients?
I used to enjoy baking and though I was pretty good, as my children have grown up I seem to rush it all too much trying to juggle everything so my skills have gone down hill. But its fab as the children love baking so they just do it instead of me!
I tend to be the main cook in the house for main meals, however as I am working my eldest is now cooking at least once a week for us all. We did rather a lot of cooking in lockdown but time has become an issue again.
I don’t have a favourite recipe but I do always prefer to cook fresh – my other half sometimes says- don’t put so much pressure on yourself just do something easy like beans on toast (and I do sometimes) but equally I am wanting to put fresh, home cooked food into my families tummies. It is not always that exciting but I know where it has all come from.
I do love my slow cooker, walking into a kitchen with the smells from what you started in the morning knowing it will be ready when you finally land after all the after school activities is fab. I like hiding veg in dishes like stews, bolognaise, lasagne, moussaka so the children get all the goodness. I also love a roast and roasting all my veg – my girls are happy to eat beetroot, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, turnips and kale and sprouts to name just a few veg, and that makes me happy!
How can people find out more about Watery Lane Produce?