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Turkeys in the Bank at Milton Haugh Farm Shop

If current restrictions continue, then it is unlikely we will be able to enjoy a traditional family celebration over the festive season – but Elizabeth Gray of the Corn Kist and Milton Haugh Farm Shop in Angus has a cunning plan.

Elizabeth has come up with a plan for a “Turkeybank” which will see customers purchase their birds as they would normally, but then have them stored in the shop’s freezers ready to be picked up for some delayed festive fun.

Every year Elizabeth orders top quality free range turkeys and chickens from her normal supplier, this year ordering 100 birds from the business that raises in the region of 1,000.

“It’s trying times for everyone at the moment and everyone is thinking about their money, but we as a business have really got to think about it.  We have to plan ahead and think about Christmas.

“The storage idea came about because the current rules at the moment would mean that people couldn’t have their families for Christmas.”

And for people who will be celebrating the big day in style, the shop has put together a pack with everything you need for a tasty December 25.

“We are trying to put everything together for a one-stop shop so that customers can pick their whole Christmas dinner up here.

“The way we were doing things at the start of lockdown was a contactless pick-up.

“We have a space near our shed where people drove up, opened their boot and then we put the whole order in the boot, so we are trying to get geared up again to do that for Christmas,

“We can’t really have a huge influx of people at the shop as sometimes around then there can be 30 or 40 people all trying to get into the shop at once on Christmas week.

“We are trying to do it so that it eases things for everyone so no one is panicking about being near a space with crowds.”

Included in the one-stop shop are: free range turkey, kilties/pigs in blankets, sausagemeat stuffing balls, bacon for your turkey, Elizabeth’s famous gravy, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, goose fat (for the roasties), an abundance of veg to roast and Aberfeldy oatmeal for skirlie.

Elizabeth’s annual turkey order is into three figures and sales are going well.

She has also recently launched a contactless vegetable pick-up service – customers simply pre-order and then collect the vegetables in the four days before Christmas.

Safety, too, in these difficult times of paramount importance and having the experience of a successful pick-up service during lockdown, Elizabeth knows customers cant trust the operation, but she has concerns which will be shared by businesses up and down the land during the pandemic.

“You know what it’s like at Christmas, the supermarkets are heaving and people are buying loads and loads of stuff which they don’t need.

“I am hoping that by seeing they can get all their Christmas dinner in one go it’s a safe place to come.” she added.

“We have been here for 20 years and I employ 13 people.

“The majority are part-time but it is for the local people and also helps young girls who have weekend jobs which is essential for life development as it teaches them great social skills and responsibility.

“If you lose things like that then what’ve you got?”

While Elizabwth wants folk to shop at Milton Haugh as a local business, she also practices what she preaches.

“I use nothing but local suppliers.

“All my bread is local from bakers in Arbroath and Carnoustie, my meat comes from and Arbroath butcher or a Forfar butcher, my milk comes from the dairy in Forfar, so I use local wherever I can get it.

“It’s a massive network we are in the middle of.  My egg supplier is nearby too,” she said.

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