Sutton Bridge man's leap of faith pays off
After spending 30 years as an insurance broker, a Sutton Bridge man has escaped the office for the great outdoors.
James Williams, who previous worked for his family business Norman C Williams and Swinton Insurance in Spalding, has set up his own business - Rookery Farm Produce - selling produce boxes.
James began selling the boxes, which are filled with produce from the area, after putting boxes together for businesses at Christmas and receiving great praise.
He said: “It was a bit of a leap of faith moving from selling insurance to selling fruit and veg, but it’s going really well. It was a big change for me but you have to embrace it - it’s definitely more enjoyable being out of the office environment and being outside.
“People are appreciating what I’m doing which is different as people don’t really want insurance when you’re selling it, but they want my produce now!”
James puts the boxes together withwide range of produce from South Holland, after having built up a good relationship with a number of growers.
However, while there is plenty of standard items included in the boxes, James says that he is finding that people are happy to try something different when given the chance.
He said: “I include your standard items such as cauliflowers and cabbages but I like to add different things in too.
“I’ve put some celeriac in and butternut squash because some people haven’t tried them before so they get a chance to try something new.
“Some people want salad, so they ask for half veg and half salad which we can do too. For the veg, I use UK and local growers as much as possible. It’s a bit more difficult with the fruit as we are limited at the minute with what is grown but we have plenty of apples and pears.
“I want to make sure people are getting the best they can and we have so many growers here with brilliant stuff - you don’t have to go too far to find good produce.”
James has also been supplying restaurants and farm shops with produce over the past few months.
He says that the positive comments he has received show that people do like to shop local where possible.
“People really like the fact that they can buy local produce and it seems that people tend to prefer shopping in farm shops as they feel a bit safer than they do in supermarkets.
“There’s also the point of how fresh the produce is - what you pick up in a supermarket has probably been going around the country for about a week but I generally pick up the items a day before I make up the box and deliver it - sometimes even on the same day.
“I want it as fresh as I can get it - and I don’t think you can get it much fresher than that. It means a lot when I get positive comments because I strive to make sure people are getting what they want.
“I’ve been getting more and more orders, and I’ve found that I’m delivering to a lot of people who are either shielding or people who are isolating.”
The business is very much a family affair, with James gaining helpful insights from his father in law and wife.
He said: “My wife works in agriculture and my father in lawgrows potatoes so they got me into it. My son Toby (15), has been a real help as he’s home learning so he gets his school work done and then comes out delivering with me too.
“I think if things are going well at a time like this I just look forward to how it’s going to go when we are back to normal.”