A start-up company that first began championing local produce from a dining room table is now serving up a fresh take on food box schemes.
Sarah Jolley and Martin Jarvis were selling cup-cakes at a farmers’ market when they recognised the fact that accessing new customers was a dilemma faced by all independent producers.
As a result Market Fayre was launched as an artisan food supplier which helps businesses throughout rural Warwickshire. From their dining room table at home in Warwick, Sarah and Martin created an on online shop with the idea of making hard-to-find artisan food from all over the UK, local to anyone.
Within two months they moved the business away from home and into the Rural Innovation Centre at Stoneleigh Park from where they are now branching out from selling individual items and into an innovative food box scheme.
Their Artisan Food Discovery Box tempts ‘foodies’ to explore and taste new flavours ranging from chutneys and oils to confectionary and biscuits of the kind that are typically only available at farmers’ markets close to where they are being produced.
Martin, aged 31, said: “The boxes are delivered to doorsteps once a month with customers able to request favourite items as well as receiving surprise products.
“Each box, also available as gluten-free, includes product descriptions, tasting notes and mini-biographies of the producers.”
Sarah, also aged 31, said: “As far as we are aware no-one is doing what we are doing, which is providing a follow-up opportunity to buy individual items that have been enjoyed from the discovery box.
“Another difference is that people are encouraged to review products online so there is a level of interaction which is not available through other food box schemes of this type.
“The producer is getting a fairer price and a route to market, while the consumer is discovering some of the best-kept artisan food secrets in the UK.
The new company already has more than 70 independent producers on board, including several from Warwickshire. Martin said: “Within the space of a couple of months we have gone from our dining room table to our own offices. We started out using the hot-desk facility at the Innovation Centre and have now moved into our own office space to coincide with the launch of the discovery boxes.
“This centre is a great incubator for small businesses and we have already been accessing the business support available. Our aim is to get our own bigger premises at Stoneleigh Park as it is a hive for agricultural and rural businesses and that fits with what we are trying to achieve as a company.”
The Rural Innovation Centre is part of the Warwickshire Rural Growth network (RGN) funded by DEFRA and led by the county council on behalf of Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
The centre was refurbished by LaSalle Investment Management as part of its revitalisation of the park where manager Liz Burkinshaw said: “The RIC has been a resounding success since opening last October and Market Fayre is a perfect example of the type of business that it is here to help.”
* Martin Jarvis and Sarah Jolley with Liz Burkinshaw (right) of the Rural Innovation Centre.