When Steve asked if any of his customers fancied blogging, I couldn’t resist. I’ve quickly gained a real fondness for the trusty Ten Mile landrover, and the fantastically short chain from producer to plate that it stands for. I think it’s in my genes.
My dad, you see, was the son of a local baker. If you’re familiar with Chesham Bois village, and you squint closely, you might just be able to recognise my grandad’s “Cakecraft” shopfront as what is now Ten Point sportswear. And here’s my dad as a young man, with the equivalent of the Ten Mile landie, circa 1950.
As the son of a baker, dad started delivering bread as a lad, with a big baker’s basket on a bike. My grandparents were up at 4am baking each morning, and most customers received their daily carbs around breakfast time, still warm from the oven. (Ironically, it was regarded as somewhat decadent to cut a loaf until it was cold: impossible to get a thin slice). Good grief, how funny and quaint I used to find the idea of my dad’s bread round when I was a little girl, as a child of the supermarket revolution. How inefficient! How old-fashioned!
Like so many things in life, age brings a shamefaced recognition that maybe it wasn’t so daft. What goes around comes around. I don’t say that out of some kind of folksy sentimentality, rather the late-dawning realisation that, when it comes to food, complicated supply systems just don’t work.
So I’m thrilled that there’s a new breed of up-to-the-moment local food businesses that take the delivery boy concept and catapult it into the 21st century. Right now, it feels like a recipe for success, establishing short supply chains (look! no unexpected horsemeat), low food miles (look! less packaging and lower carbon), personal service (look! someone who doesn't need a name tag, who can anticipate the kind of food I like and give me a nudge about it).
Best of all, it’s re-establishing a community and connection between customers, farmers, producers, distributors. It’s transparent. It’s satisfying. And with the wonders of social media and technology, there’s nothing remotely old-fashioned about it.
Personally I enjoy my supper all the more through knowing its back-story. I’ve had hare from a one-off control shoot in Great Missenden, and now I’ve a freezer full of Hampden Herdwick hogget (I’d buy it for the alliteration alone). I follow loads of local foodies and food businesses on Twitter, and love the virtual village.
When I told my dad I was writing this blog, he dug out an even older photo, of his own father, with an even earlier prototype of the Ten Mile landrover. The horse-drawn bread van might have been good for the roses, but I reckon the modern version’s doing its own bit quite nicely. And there’s no risk whatsoever of finding it in your food chain.
This blog was kindly contributed by Sue Bealing of Chesham, one of Ten Mile's first customers. Thanks Sue!
If you are interested in making a contribution to our local foodie blog, then get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org, also we'd love to hear your thoughts on Sue's blog by leaving your comments below!