Posted: Sat 31st Oct 2020

Wrexham Glyndŵr University film project to celebrate Welsh businesses supporting communities during pandemic

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Oct 31st, 2020

A film project will go ahead to celebrate Welsh businesses which have supported communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wrexham Glyndŵr University’s ‘Horticulture Wales’ project commissioned a series of short films to celebrate the success of the businesses and detail how they worked to support communities across Wales.

The films feature businesses from Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan through to Flintshire, showing how they adapted their practices to meet COVID-19 challenges.

Owners of the Camlan Garden Centre & Farm Shop in Snowdonia National Park discuss how they changed their operations to meet official guidance, the demand for home deliveries of essential food and resources for customers to home grow.

Co-owner Ian Allsop said: “We were very surprised by the huge range of high quality welsh produce when we moved to Wales and wanted to reflect this within our business – we’re proud of the range we now sell.”

In Llangollen, Zingbier Wholefoods found the pandemic to have brought a challenge but ensured the provision of personal touches they pride themselves on.

Owner Chris Baker said: “We kept going all the way through the pandemic but had to adapt the way we work and interact with customers.

“At first, we limited the number of customers in the shop to only two at a time but once the March lockdown began we stopped allowing customers in at all – instead, they were served from a temporary counter in the shop doorway.

“Mostly customers would send in orders via email, text or telephone – we would put together what they wanted, and they would call just to collect and pay.

“We soon learned who wanted smooth or crunchy peanut butter, and dark or light tahini, and who preferred everything organic where available.

“A lot of products – bags of flour in particular – were in high demand and so difficult to obtain reliably from our wholesalers.

“When even sacks of flour could not be bought from our usual suppliers, the local bakery came up trumps and were able to supply us.

“At one time we had locally grown salad and other vegetables but, sadly, they weren’t able to continue supplying us, so there’s a bit of a gap there – we’d like to be able to fill it.

“It would be great to hear from local growers, local producers. We’re always willing to have a look at what you’re offering, and perhaps we’ll be able to stock it.”

Cowbridge Physic Garden in the Vale of Glamorgan was another to find the initial response to the pandemic a challenge as visitors were asked to stay away.

However, the garden, described as ‘an oasis of calm’ in the market town, was, like other ‘Horticulture Wales’ businesses, able to use the time to adapt.

The Garden’s Martyn Hurst said: “During the initial coronavirus lockdown, our garden was closed but small groups of volunteers were allowed to tend the garden, behind locked doors.

“Since re-opening, a huge number of visitors have commented on how good the garden is looking, and how it lifts their spirits to wander through such a special place – and spend time enjoying nature’s bounty.”

Back across Wales, here in Flintshire, a small group of gardeners were also working across three sites in the county for FlintShare – adapting their working practices to grow organic fruit and veg whilst allowing their members to socialise responsibly.

Janet Wainwright from the FlintShare group said: “We are a group of community fruit and vegetable gardeners working over three diverse sites in North Wales.

“We have been sharing our organically grown fruit and veg over the past ten years at our weekly members hub, which is not simply a veg ‘pick up point’ but an opportunity for members to socialise with members across the different sites and eat cake – we must not forget the cake!

“Not to be thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have successfully adapted our working practices in order to continue producing local, sustainable fruit and veg for our members.

“Indeed, during the pandemic there has been a flurry of interest in our membership which now stands at around 100.”

Laura Gough, Head of Enterprise at Wrexham Glyndŵr University, said: “We recognise the challenges faced by our members’ businesses over the past few months, and wanted to record these with a series of short films, highlighting their resilience and their response to the pandemic.

“Working together with FilmCafé, these films demonstrate how local growers, horticulturalists and producers have worked together, kept their communities safe and supplied Wales with local goods and produce.”

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “I would like to congratulate all of the producers and businesses from across Wales whose work has been highlighted thanks to this project.

“The determination and innovation they’ve shown in adapting to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are characteristic of the resilient nature of this sector, along with the effort they have put in to support their local communities.”

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