Pop-up campsite grows alongside expanding farm shop
- Credit: Denise Bradley
A Norfolk farm shop owner has created a pop-up campsite to cash in on a post-lockdown staycation boom - while bringing another revenue stream into his expanding business.
Last year, new measures were introduced which allowed businesses to set-up temporary campsites for 56 days without the need for planning permission - helping farmers and landowners to take advantage of an expected surge in staycations this summer.
Among them were Algy Garrod, who also manages around 1,000 acres of farmland and runs Algy's Farm Shop at Bintree, near Fakenham.
He teamed up with a neighbour who hired tents to festivals until lockdown cancellations removed his market - now 20 teepees are either built or under construction at Algy’s Farm Campsite at Old Hall Farm in nearby Themelthorpe.
Mr Garrod said he "dabbled" with the campsite last summer - although it was hit by some "weather disasters". But he is hoping for greater success this year, and aims to make the site a permanent fixture - in tandem with plans to expand the farm shop into a converted grain shed.
He said the two enterprises worked hand in hand, bring valuable extra revenue into the farm business as EU subsidies are phased out after Brexit.
"My target is that once I have paid for my investment the campsite will make a contribution to the pot and help replace some of the direct subsidy that is being removed from agriculture," he said.
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"It gives us another string to our bow, bit it is also intrinsically linked to the farm shop. Campers can order food online from the farm shop, and we do wood-fired pizzas that people can order from the campsite.
"I am intending to apply for planning permission for a campsite in some shape or form, and I will be looking at further investment to put in a new road - partly for the campsite, but also to divert my farm traffic away from residents in the village.
"Everything we are doing is about sustainability. Instead of concentrating on one big business, I want my business to be robust so it has many different facets.
"The farm shop has doubled the size of my business, and we want to convert my grain store intro a bigger farm shop that will give us the ability to put in a butchery and a kitchen, then we can produce food for the campsite and potentially a wedding venue. So it all ties in."
Mr Garrod is awaiting a planning decision from Breckland Council for the farm shop expansion, and if permission is given he hopes to start the project in January.
The campsite is listed with outdoor accommodation provider Pitchup.com, which claims farmers could earn as much as £7,000 per day by opening a temporary campsite during the holiday season.
Founder Dan Yates said: “Staycations have seen a surge in popularity over recent years and in the light of Covid-19, this trend will only get stronger.
"At the same time, agriculture is facing a less certain future as the Basic Payment Scheme is phased out from this year, meaning farm incomes could fall.
"Temporary campsites are a fantastic way of generating significant extra revenue with very little investment and next to no disruption to day-to-day business operations."