Family-run Bishop's Stortford business Fredericks Farm Boxes: 'The idea is to get to know people and what they like, and to become their own personal greengrocer'
A Bishop's Stortford floristry couple are hoping their new business, delivering fresh and sustainably-produced groceries, will blossom.
Frederick and Maria Hopkinson have run Frederick's of London for 20 years, producing eye-catching floral designs for weddings and events, hotels and corporates as well as private homes.
But with the coronavirus pandemic forcing a rethink, the husband and wife, who have been together 25 years, decided to use their passion for fresh produce and providing excellent customer service to launch delivery business Fredericks Farm Boxes last month.
Frederick, who grew up in a family who liked to grow their own produce and reared turkeys, had the idea to create the direct link between small-scale farmers who care about animal welfare and protecting the environment and like-minded consumers.
From their premises at the Peek Business Centre on the Woodside industrial estate off Dunmow Road, the couple offer a huge range of products including meat and fish, fruit and veg as well as pantry items such as jams and spreads, confectionery and biscuits. They also offer chilled goods like milk, cream, cheese and butter plus homewares and gift ideas, and they hope to have an alcohol licence soon in order to offer wines and bubbly.
Keeping food miles down to a minimum means products are often from local suppliers and also often from within the UK.
"We want to be really creative with what we offer people," said father-of-three Frederick; the couple's children all go to school in Stortford.
"We want to offer customers an experience with good wholesome produce that's sustainable and ethically sourced.
"We do our homework when it comes to sourcing our produce and want to work with as many local suppliers as possible."
As well as ordering pre-prepared boxes, customers can build their own box while also being able to select repeat orders to ensure they never miss a delivery.
The business offers a wide range of organic meat, and green principles are hugely important to Frederick and Maria. They try to be as environmentally friendly as possible and are looking into starting a 'plant a tree' scheme, which would see a tree planted for every farm box sold.
The couple began delivering fruit and veg during the first lockdown last March and realised they had a great idea for another successful business. They can deliver nationwide, so people can send essentials, treats and gifts to friends and loved ones they might not be able to see in lockdown.
And there are themed boxes for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day as well as packages to complement the perfect at-home cinema night.
"The mission from day one was to offer a wide range of high-quality products," said Frederick, who is always happy to talk to customers about their orders and the range of products available.
"We've already got good relationships with some regulars. The idea is to get to know people and what they like, and to become their own personal greengrocer."
There are plans to expand the business when coronavirus restrictions are eased by the Government. They want to hold events such as wine and cheese tasting evenings and to open a deli, while the florists could open up to walk-in customers to create a workshop environment for customers to explore their full range.
Visit www.fredericksfarmboxes.co.uk to find out more about the full range of products and to place an order.