WITH Covid restrictions signalling the demise of several big high street names, UK farmers are seizing the opportunity to show off their wares and show just what they can provide the general public.

Currently an English project – but with plans in the pipeline for similar north of the Border – Happerley England is launching on Saturday, August 29, with the opening of England’s very first national centre of food and drink provenance in an interactive mixed retail, street food and entertainment environment.

Based in a former BHS store in Banbury, close to where many other retailers have recently shut down, UK farmers are opening up a brand new butchers shop, fishmongers, deli, farm shop, bakery, cheese counter, off license, three take-aways, a restaurant and a large bar.

This will create 60 full and part-time jobs and hope to drive a radical change in how food and drink is retailed and served.

The project – which has the backing of farming TV star, Adam Henson, is aimed at allowing consumers to use QR technology on a smartphone to better understand the journey of the food they buy, to allow for educated and conscious purchasing decisions.

Tom Porter, from Happerley, explained: “We are excited to be opening this unique space and think this is a project that has real potential to spread across the UK.

“With Happerley England opening acting as the starting point we can push these northwards and create Happerley Scotland – to involve all of Scotland’s best producers with a passion for provenance.”

He added: “As a company we are all about celebrating producers who are passionate about provenance. Whether it’s sourcing deer from the Highlands, or single malt whisky from Speyside, we don’t stand for being British or local, we simply stand for the truth.

“We believe consumers are demanding more and we want to provide those suppliers who are passionate about transparency, a platform to shout their name and connect their customers to the journey of their food and drink.”

The importance of provenance is key to the project and Happerley already has the support of hundreds of producers around the UK who allow them to validate and publish their ingredient supply chain, meaning consumers know the journey of their food and drink.

All produce for Happerley England must be ‘Happerley Gold’ accredited or on a journey to reach that standard, meaning consumers can trace the ingredients in their purchases right back to farms and boats, allowing the producers to tell their story of the journey of their own products.

This sort of farm to fork idea is something that they feel would massively suit the Scottish market, he said: “It’s another opportunity to celebrate Scottish products and the provenance of those products.

“This is a journey to educate consumers, as many are very unaware of the process of sourcing the finest ingredients. To empower the consumer to make informed decisions rather than be fooled by large marketing budgets and packaging.

“We are in search of retail space in Scotland to enable this to happen. Most noticeably, the new St James development in Edinburgh is an area that could benefit from our unique offering. We understand that this is going forward and this is in an area that we believe could best benefit this type of innovation around food and drink and reach consumers on a mass scale.”

Happerley founder, Matthew Rymer, backed Tom’s sentiments, explaining: “We hope to blaze a new future for retail by re-engaging town centres with their hinterland and delivering truth instead of spin.

“It is not rocket science – this is about delivering transparency and truth for the benefit of all. It is about telling the story of field to fork, creating community space, a platform for genuine interaction and a sustainable business model for all.

“We want to lay a path for hope through these difficult times and to focus on the glory of what we as a nation produce. We very much hope to set up a Happerley Scotland and Happerley Wales in due course.

“We are on a journey for the marque to become something recognisable and a stamp of truth. Happerley England is firing us upwards and we want to enable Scotland’s producers the same opportunities ... we just need to make them aware.”