An Angus berry farm has built a brand new drive-through to cope with increasing demand for its tasty produce.
Balhungie Berry Farm opened its new drive-through two weekends ago when throngs of people descended to enjoy their wares.
And they are also now welcoming pop-ups to join them with Fallone’s Pizza being on-site the past two weekends at the farm near Monifieth.
Michelle Porter, owner of the farm shop, explained that what began as a small concern at Balhungie years ago had grown to such a size that they had to look at building something to house their offering.
“We started with just a table in the garage and a biscuit tin and ran it as an honesty box,” she revealed.
“We started to get quite popular and then over the years we added bits. We did cream teas on sunny days, and let people feed the lambs to connect with the local community.
“As we have got a little bit bigger we started stocking local produce. There was a lovely vibe.”
Dealing with Covid
The coronavirus pandemic breaking out more than a year ago meant, in common with almost every business in the country, that Balhungie Berry Farm had to look at operating differently.
“When Covid-19 came it became apparent that we couldn’t do it from the garage due to social distancing so we set up at the end of the road and ran it as a drive-through and it was fantastic,” Michelle added.
“After that we did a survey and after seeing the responses decided to do something that had a drive-through element. You could sit and have an ice cream, have a look at the view and it is also a place where you could shop.
“Some of our older clients like the idea of a walk up from Monifieth, a stop and chat, whereas others just want to grab the berries and go, so it works well.”
Ready and waiting with big smiles and beautiful berries. Our pals Fallone's Pizzas & Gelato will be joining us again so…
And now they are joining forces with other producers in Angus who will be taking advantage of the opportunity to do a pop-up at Balhungie.
“The idea of doing pop-ups came about because I was selling WeeCOOK’s pies and they were selling our berries. We thought it would be great to have a spot every weekend,” Michelle continued.
“We have got Fallone’s Pizza, WeeCOOk pies, Redcastle Gin, Mezzaluna and lots more. The idea is they either do a Saturday or a Sunday and we share the very best that Angus has to offer. It is the most amazing place for food and drink.
“We are part of Appetite for Angus and it is really raising the profile of Angus food and drink and we connected with so many people during lockdown. It’s so exciting.
“Fallone’s Pizza use our berries and then we sell their ice cream, for instance. It’s stopping air miles, it’s keeping it local, it’s keeping people employed – what’s not to love about shopping local and buying local produce?
“Angus, they always say, is the bread basket of Scotland and it has so many fantastic things.
“We do asparagus from Lunan Bay Farm, we do Rosehill Cherries from Arbroath. We now do Pie Bob’s meringues as previously we were ordering from a company down south.
“We open on May 1 every year and then close on the last day of August and come rain or shine we are out there.”
Through a business initiative, Michelle is also offering people beginning their business adventure the chance to experiment at the farm.
“I am part of Women’s Business Station which is supporting local women in Dundee to grow their businesses. So another reason for doing this was to give an opportunity to people just starting out, people who maybe didn’t want to pay for a stall so if they don’t sell anything it doesn’t matter as they can’t lose,” she said.
“It gives women starting out some experience in selling direct to the public. I have a couple coming through Women’s Business Station who will be selling their brownies, fudge and homemade cakes.”
Charity, too, also benefits from sales of jam and tablet at Balhungie, added Michelle.
“We donate a percentage of our profits to a charity called ABC Africa who run food programmes out in Africa,” she said.
“Last year, through selling our jam and tablet, we managed to feed over 4,000 kids and we have set up a permanent food station. Half goes to breast cancer awareness and half goes to Africa.”