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‘We need to pull together’ - Potato farmer delivers to homes in need during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 09:26 26 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:06 26 March 2020

Norfolk potato grower Tim Briscoe of Buxton Potatoes is making deliveries to his most vulnerable and isolated neighbours during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Rae Shirley

Norfolk potato grower Tim Briscoe of Buxton Potatoes is making deliveries to his most vulnerable and isolated neighbours during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Rae Shirley

Rae Shirley

A Norfolk farmer is delivering sacks of potatoes to his most vulnerable or isolated neighbours in his spare time – part of an “incredible” community effort to keep food flowing into people’s homes during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Buxton Potato Company is one of a growing number of farm producers looking for new ways to get their vital produce to people who may be isolated and house-bound, vulnerable to infection or working long shifts in the health service.

Manager Tim Briscoe has set up a point-of-sale box shop at the entrance to Dudwick Farm, on Cawston Road in Buxton, near Aylsham, which he describes as a “totally isolated shopping experience” where customers can collect potatoes and leave cash in the office without interacting with anyone, to stay within the government’s strict social distancing guidelines.

But before his working day begins, he is also driving out to deliver 12.5kg bags to those who need them most, within a five-mile radius of the farm.

“Most people are managing to find a neighbour to come and pick up from us, but if anyone is in a real muddle we are doing what we can to get to them,” he said.

“If somebody is totally isolated, so if they are over-70 and don’t want to go out, or if they have underlying heath issue, or no neighbour who can help them, or if they work in the health service – where I can help them, I will.

“It is not just because I want to sell spuds, I just feel we need to pull together as a community. We have got to push these links from farm to consumer. That is the way forward after all this.

READ MORE: ‘We’ve got your back’ – Farmers’ reassuring message over food supplies for the lockdown

“We have got one guy from Costessey, he started a local help group and we said we will run some potatoes out to you. He had a ring round and see what was needed and now we are up to 65 bags. I am going to take that to him to distribute to people in need.

“People like that are just really impressive. It is incredible what people are doing.”

Mr Briscoe, who also paid tribute to the hard work of team members Mark Lister and Nigel Woolley, said he has a surplus of good quality potatoes to sell, which had been destined for the restaurant industry before the closures enforced by the pandemic.

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