Slice of Life Interview – Will Docker

Will Docker is the Co-Founder of Balgove Larder near St. Andrew’s, which offers seasonal produce direct from their own farms and award-winning meat prepared by their team of traditionally skilled butchers. By converting former farm buildings Balgove Larder includes The Farm Shop, The Steak Barn, The Butchery, The Flower Shed, The Homestore and The Café. Balgove Larder is shortlisted for the Rural Business Diversification Award and Best Rural Employer at the Scottish Rural Awards 2020.

What do you do on a typical day?

It’s the usual story of there being no such thing as a ‘typical day’, this is a curse and joy in equal proportions. Balgove Larder has been trading for 10 years this year, in this time I’d like to say I’ve seen it all but I know I’d be lying. My role as the working partner has evolved from designing and building the business with my daily input being vital on the shop floor to now ensuring the team can do their jobs to the best of their ability to help continue to grow the business. This can vary from liaising with the farm production to tie in with our business demands, to developing new products, planning future developments and trying to keep the team keen and passionate about what they do.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Our produce, team and our dynamism keeps the day to day operations so interesting and new. This coupled with our customers, many of whom have become good friends, makes for a lot of job satisfaction. The daily variety and problem-solving means that there is never a chance of a boring day and the challenge of trying to make the business better each day gives me a real buzz.

What is unusual about your business?

We have reacted quickly to grow the business and while we react to customer feedback and demand we also go with gut feel and ask ourselves ‘what would you like?’ The Steak Barn (our steak restaurant) is an example of just this – we created the type of restaurant that we would really like to go to regularly. Our team are passionate about the business and the produce – our Head Butcher James is supplied by the farm with all of the lamb and the vast majority of beef coming from the farm itself. We have 10 acres of home-grown vegetables onsite and really do care where the produce comes from. We strive for a single link supply chain wherever possible and know that having complete control is completely fundamental. It’s crazy to be reverting to the ‘simple’ ways that our great grand parents knew, but these ‘old ways’ had evolved over hundreds of years and in two generations we have forgotten so much!

What will you tell the world if you win this award?

We have been lucky enough to nominated as finalists in two awards, Rural Business Diversification Award and Best Rural Employer. To win either would give us the chance to say that the simple, old ways work! We need to encourage more businesses to focus on localism, traditional skills and reducing their impact. This is vital to ensure we reduce the environmental burden that has built up so quickly. We have to trade in a more responsible way and it is so attainable. We’d be over the moon to be made an example of to help spread the word!