FARM shops have reaped the rewards of people shopping more locally during the coronavirus lockdown.

One farming family from north Herefordshire has had to work overtime to keep up with a huge spike in demand after strict lockdown measures were imposed on March 21.

Quarry Farm Shop in Luston, north of Leominster, has been in the hands of the Jones family since 1997, and coronavirus has been the most challenging period seen by the firm.

Butcher Richard Jones said the pandemic has been more difficult than the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak and the uncertainty in 2017 when Herefordshire Council sold its farms.

The farm shop has picked up a number of new customers and Mr Jones hopes they stay loyal when the pandemic comes to an end.

“We just weren’t prepared for it, and for the first two or three weeks we were unbelievably busy to the extent we were struggling to cope,” he said.

“It was getting too much. We then started doing home deliveries.

He added: “It’s died down a lot to what it was, but we’re still quite busy. I think people would rather stand outside a farm shop than stand outside in a queue outside a Morrisons, Tesco or Asda. Hopefully, we’ll hang onto a few of them when it’s all over.”

Mr Jones, whose brother looks after the farm, said he believed farm shops had been more popular over the past four months as people look for good quality food produced locally.

“Generally, I think butchers have done quite well. At the end of the day all restaurants have been shut so everybody is eating at home,” he said.

“They aren’t necessarily spending much money on food or entertainment and going out to eat, so their luxury item is nice food.

“I think good butchers and good farm shops have seen the benefit of it.”

He added: “It’s been seven days a week since I don’t know when. People think we shut the shop at 2pm and we go home and put our feet up, but it’s been 6am to 6pm every day.”

National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters told the i newspaper about thriving farm trade in local communities.

She added: “People really value being able to buy local. Farm shops have done a fantastic trade and that’s a big opportunity going forward.”

As part of its #HerefordshireTogether initiative, which seeks to rally the county's response to coronavirus, the Hereford Times is running a Local Local Business campaign. It is banging the drum for local enterprise and offering free marketing shout-outs to firms.