The New Forest National Park Authority is supporting local producers during COVID-19 by helping deliver goods to the community.
All 150 members of the New Forest Marque scheme have been affected by the recent lockdown, although more than half have adapted their services and are still trading in some way.
Many local retailers, caterers, butchers, bakers, farmers, and growers are working at full capacity to serve their local towns and villages across the New Forest and are potentially a lifeline for the elderly and vulnerable in their communities. Marque members are helping people to stay home and save lives by offering online ordering and deliveries, while others are busy making up boxes of goods grown or produced in the New Forest, such as vegetables, fruit, meats and cheeses.
Restaurants, temporarily closed to the public, have adapted to deliver meals or baked goodies, or provide take-aways.
Claire Lee, New Forest Marque Operations Manager, said: ‘There’s a tremendous effort going on out there. So many people are working hard to support each other as well as local businesses and the community.
‘The New Forest National Park Authority supports the New Forest Marque year-round, including annual funding of £25,000, office space and admin.
‘Recently its rangers came forward offering further support and are now in their ranger vans delivering locally – helping people who can’t get out to shop for themselves.’
Elsewhere in the Forest, mills are working all hours producing much-needed flour which the rangers are delivering to farm shops. Gin suppliers are switching their production to antibacterial hand gel (much of which has been donated to care providers) and have been working with Marque skincare producers to add new properties and fragrances.
While hotels and guest houses have had to shut their doors to the public, some are offering accommodation to NHS staff. And now that asparagus season is here, pick-your-own farms have introduced pop-up kiosks so people can still enjoy fresh local seasonal produce.
Claire Lee added: ‘We mustn’t forget all the Marque wholesalers which normally supply the hotels and restaurants. They are now adapting to food delivery schemes, or people can collect from the warehouses, where boxes will be placed straight into the boot of your car.
‘I’m amazed at the interesting ways people are adapting their businesses, supporting the community and helping people stay at home.
‘Thank you everyone for supporting local. Details of all the Marque producers and suppliers can be found on our website www.newforestmarque.co.uk’
The National Park Authority also wants to remind businesses of the support available to those impacted by COVID-19. Further details are on the New Forest District Council webpages http://www.newforest.gov.uk/