Name: Emily French
Business: Foxes Farm Produce
Role: Business Partner
“As a small, local business, we have the power and freedom to make decisions, question things and constantly develop new ideas, which is really exciting.”
Foxes Farm Produce grows and supplies pumpkins and Christmas trees from farms in Colchester and Basildon. It also offers pick-your-own pumpkin patches and family events on the farms.
The business is run Emily French and her husband Guy. Guy started the business in 2007, selling a range of fruit and veg to local stockists before focusing on pumpkins and Christmas trees from 2009 when Emily joined him. In 2015, Emily left her full-time job in HR to devote herself to the business.
For Emily, a career in farming was a natural career path after growing up in a farming family. She says, “When you grow up on a farm you really take for granted the freedom to be outside and enjoy outside space. I had always wanted to return to this environment and to move into a career that is flexible and allows me to have control and use my own ideas.”
Emily and Guy continually look for new and innovative ways to attract new customers and enhance their brand. Last year they created some popular ‘Frankenstein’ pumpkins using moulds brought in from the USA, and they opened their pumpkin patches, allowing families and children to pick their own pumpkins and get lost in the maize maze. Later this year, they’ll be opening a corn maze on both sites. Emily believes this freedom for innovation is a real positive for local businesses.
She says “As a small, local business, we have the power and freedom to make decisions, question things and constantly develop new ideas, which is really exciting. We also take the time to focus on our quality of service. We promote the fact that we are a young, family business and take pride in the fact that we’re very easy to deal with.”
Although the peak in sales for Foxes Farm Produce is extremely seasonal, Emily and Guy are kept busy all year round with ordering, planting, sales and administration, and Emily takes part in every element of the business. For her, seeing the results and recognition from this continual hard work is what makes her most proud.
Emily says, “At times, such as in the lead up to Halloween from August onwards, we do nothing but work, but we thrive on the adrenaline buzz. When we see the pumpkin patch busy and popular and see children happily playing in the mud to pick their pumpkins, it’s all worth it.”
Foxes Farm became a supplier for the East of England Co-op in 2016, and was recently named as Best Newcomer at their annual Supplier Supper. Emily believes that since establishing the relationship, they have raised their status as they are seen as a trusted supplier by a well-known store.
She says, “The Co-op is so passionate about local produce, they live and breathe it, so we are very proud to be a supplier for them. It’s so important for the industry to support local producers, otherwise we will lose traditional businesses and trades, which our future generation will never see on the high street.
“People are becoming more and more astute in their purchasing and are asking more questions about where their food comes from, which I hope we can continue to encourage.”
Emily believes she has established a strong reputation for herself within the industry, but feels that this was something she had to earn. She explains, “Initially, I felt that some suppliers would question my understanding or knowledge when I was placing orders, but that’s no longer the case. They know me, they know my business and they ask Guy where I am if he is visiting sites without me.
“I would certainly encourage more women to consider joining the farming industry as everyone can offer something different. Our business works like a jigsaw. Guy and I tend to naturally focus on different areas of the business which means it work really well. Guy is happiest working on the farm while I enjoy meeting and interacting with customers. I love our lifestyle and the outdoors life; I want it for my children and future generations and I hope that we continue to thrive.”
For further information on Foxes Farm Produce visit www.foxesfarmproduce.co.uk