LA New Forest and the regions surrounding it are home to a multitude of independent food and beverage producers, as well as a company that selects their wares for baskets.
The Forest Foodie recently won two Brilliance in Business Awards from the New Forest Business Partnership, where it was named Food and Drink Business 2021 and Business of the Year.
Lymington resident Flora Richardson started the business 16 months ago with the aim of connecting small local producers with more people who live locally or visit the forest.
It produces picnics and fresh baskets, mainly for the summer season. But he also assembles gift baskets year round, as well as âdinner at homeâ packages ready to be finished and served.
Flora had worked in the restaurant business in the French Alps and had a âdesire to get away from the corporate world and follow what really excites meâ.
All the contents of the Forest Foodie baskets come from the New Forest or surrounding areas, extending to Cranborne Estate for pork pannage or Bournemouth for Conker Gin.
The fresh baskets can contain fish caught anywhere from Mudeford to the Isle of Wight, beef from a commoner’s stock, local sparkling wine and locally made cheese, chutneys and jams.
There are 35 different gift baskets, priced between Â£ 35 and Â£ 500, which can be sent anywhere in the UK. âIt’s nice for people who visit the forest or identify with the forest,â says Flora. Picnic and cool baskets range from Â£ 25 to Â£ 65 per person and are packaged in wool coolers for extra durability. The company can deliver locally or customers can pick up.
The company works with more than 35 local producers, whom Flora has come to know.
In addition to selling their products, Flora shares the manufacturers’ individual stories in blog posts on the website.
âIt has to be local, but there also has to be a really good ‘why’ and a local story behind it,â says Flora.
Flora discovered new food and beverage producers for her during the process of starting the business and maintaining her baskets.
âI don’t think there’s a single business that I haven’t been to, to see how it works,â she says.
The company struck a chord with people who have become particularly eager to support local suppliers amid all the uncertainties of the pandemic.
âIf we want these local people to be here then you have to support them all year round,â she says.
“I think there has been a change, which is great.”
- The Forest Foodie is on theforestfoodie.com and on Facebook (@ theforestfoodie2020) and Instagram (@the_forestfoodie). 01590 674395.