Crooked Boot Farm was started by Aimi Pinder and Lucy Smith in 2018 with a vision of creating a business with sustainability and nature at its core. All plants are grown by the duo on their farm in Ballydehob, which means they are truly hardy to West Cork. Crooked Boot Farm focuses on plants that are great for pollinating insects and other wildlife, as well as useful herbs and edibles for human consumption. It is important to Aimi and Lucy that they follow organic principles and use no harmful chemicals so that their produce is truly nature and human friendly whilst remaining competitively priced. This year, all of their stock was sold in plastic free pots.
When Covid-19 arrived and lockdown was first announced, like many other business owners they felt very much like rabbits in headlights. “Were we still allowed to trade? Should we continue to make plants? What about the stock we already have? When the government guidelines announced gardening supplies as one of the essential products we breathed a sigh of relief and threw ourselves into a new marketing plan; we realised that we needed to adapt and in the new climate the way to go was online, a daunting prospect for two people happier in the fresh air than behind a computer!” says Aimi.
A successful Facebook campaign brought lots of new followers and between them and regular customers, Crooked Boot Farm was soon doing deliveries. The good news was everyone had turned to gardening as a means to get them through the lockdown! However, taking online orders and delivering was very time-consuming, and it became clear that this method of sales was unsustainable.
That was when Crooked Boot joined NeighbourFood, an online Farmers’ market with collection points that started to pop up in West Cork locations as a response to the Farmers’ markets being closed. It is a fantastic concept that a range of West Cork food and artisan producers have joined. It meant that at a time when food security and local supply chains were under threat, there was still a way to access local produce.
Now more than ever we can see the importance of fresh, local produce. Lucy and Aimi have been busy this year developing their veg plot, so very soon they will have fresh chemical-free veg available from their roadside stall outside the farm – look out for the signs on N71, north of Ballydehob.
Now the farmers’ markets have re-opened, the Crooked Boot pair are happy to be back selling at Kinsale, Bantry, Skibbereen and Schull markets. “These local hubs are so important for communities, and we are happy that people are back using these spaces whilst respecting the distancing guidelines and paying attention to the needs of those more vulnerable,” says Lucy.
“Crooked Boot Farm would like to say a massive thank you to our customers who have supported us through the current climate. Your patience and willingness to support local growers as we adapted to unprecedented conditions have allowed us to continue selling through these tough times.
“We will soon be taking an early break from selling plants to prepare for the arrival of our new family. Until then, look out for us at the West Cork Farmers’ markets and remember to continue to shop local.”