Our clients say it best – Barbara Cossins

Barbara Cossins and her husband James are the proud owners of a farm, a traditional countryside family pub, a butchery and a farm shop all in the Tarrant Valley near Blandford in Dorset.

Tell us a bit about your business

We have a mixed farm with beef cattle, two milking herds and we grow corn too, all which keeps my husband James very busy! He is the 5th generation of his family to farm on our land in Tarrant Rawston. We have owned The Langton Arms pub in Tarrant Monkton since 1993 and have been lucky enough to receive many awards for our Dorset food and hospitality. In 2012 we set up our own butchery on the farm, we wanted to support our farming roots and we knew we were producing best quality beef with a fabulous old fashioned flavour as well as giving a melt in the mouth experience! Being able to supply our customers with high quality meat with known Dorset provenance and full traceability was very important to us as a family. We also felt it brought the two businesses together and we could tell the whole story of “farm to fork”. Two years ago we added a farm shop so we could showcase other independent Dorset food producers. We have also just opened up a little “pop up” campsite on our farm to generate additional income for the other businesses. I run the pub as well as the butchery and farm shop.

How did Covid-19 affect your business?

The farming was generally unaffected but of course pubs were one of the main sectors affected by the lockdown. The pub has had no Government help apart from the furloughing of staff, except for one chef who we kept on to produce bread, cakes, pies and ready meals for the farm shop. The lovely thing was that we had the farm shop so we could support the local community by providing delivery services for the vulnerable and for those shielding. Overnight we became a very busy little shop supporting the needs of the more vulnerable and because of the measures we put in place all of our customers felt safe coming to us. We were supplying fresh, local meat and produce in a safe and welcoming environment, much preferred to a visit to a supermarket by many. With the pub closed and with full fridges and freezers we utilised this food by supplying ready meals to our local food bank and community kitchen, feeding those in need during such difficult times.

We also started to work with small producers including a local flower producer who was just going to throw everything in. I persuaded him that we could sell some plants from our farm shop so that kept him going, and then because he kept producing he was able to supply a lot of other businesses too, so that worked well. People needed to enjoy their gardens during lockdown. When the Langton Arms re-opened he arrived with masses of beautiful flowers to decorate the pub. It just shows that people working together and helping each other pays off. I’m a great campaigner for small businesses to work together and that’s a positive thing that has resulted from Covid-19 - the importance of everyone working together and supporting each other.

This is the third week now that the pub has been open again. We’ve all got to do our bit to try and reboot the economy so we are making the best of it – we have some good systems in place and it’s just a question of getting used to it all again. We are lucky to have a number of fabulous outside spaces at the pub to both eat and drink which has proved to be a big plus point for us as being outside to the majority feels much safer.

How has Blanchards Bailey supported you during the crisis?

Blanchards Bailey have been our solicitors for the last five years after our former solicitor retired. They are solicitors for the whole business – the farm, pub, butchery and farm shop – which combines two of their specialities, agriculture and food and drink.

Blanchards Bailey have been great. Solicitors are an important part of any business – someone described them to me as like your doctor – you have to have a good relationship with them as they know all your family and circumstances.

During the Covid-19 crisis Paul Dunlop has regularly called us and checked we’re alright – how nice is that? It’s great to know they’re there. The fact that Paul was very happy to pick up his phone and check we were all OK makes us confident they are up to date with what’s happening to us as a business. Often people say they don’t talk to their solicitor unless they really have to but actually everyone always needs them. The contact makes them more modern and approachable and makes it easier to go to them for even just simple advice.

This year we have launched our first Love Local Trust Local food and drink awards. Blanchards Bailey were so supportive from the start – we have both been sponsors of the Taste of Dorset awards in the past and Paul said the firm would support me a hundred percent if I set up my own awards. Now we’re trying to get the awards out there. Even if we end up just doing a virtual awards ceremony at the end of the year it will be a celebration of great food in Dorset and great small producers who have been keeping things going during the crisis. It’s a strange time to be starting anything but we really feel this is the year we should be doing it. It’s about supporting the small independents who employ 30 people and under and about everything “local”. The crisis has made people appreciate the countryside, fresh air and good food – the simple things. People have turned back to cooking at home and have become more aware of what they’re putting in their bodies.

Blanchards Bailey are sponsoring the Innovation Award category and Paul has been so supportive. A lot of people are getting behind us and are very enthusiastic about the idea.

Having a good relationship with Blanchards Bailey is good for the whole family, even down to the younger generation. Our two children, Georgina and Henry, are both married now and looking to their future. They have both been in contact with the firm and it’s good to know they can help with all kinds of issues including drafting a will, buying land or property or setting up trust funds.

Blanchards Bailey are leading regional firm and we’re very pleased to have such a supportive business relationship.

For all Commercial, and Agricultural enquiries call 01258 459361.

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