Stowmarket poultry farm hatches eggcellent sales idea

Gareth and Alice Hart with their daughter Grace (2) and their egg vending machine ANL-140411-164358009
Gareth and Alice Hart with their daughter Grace (2) and their egg vending machine ANL-140411-164358009
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Valley Farm Poultry has a cracking new idea for selling its free-range eggs.

Gareth and Alice Hart’s business in Combs Lane, Stowmarket, has long sold eggs at the roadside with an honesty box, but it seems some customers were not as honest as they should have been, so the couple have shelled out on what they think is the first egg vending machine in Suffolk.

Alice said: “We decided to invest in the machine so that we could also be open all the time.

“Most people have got on all right with it. We had a customer of 94 who managed it all right the other day.

“It’s very easy – you just tap in the number of the box you want to open.

“It gives change and will take notes.”

To make sure your eggs do not arrive scrambled, the Dutch-made machine has a series of glass-fronted cabinets, each containing a box or tray of eggs. It also means you can see what you’re buying, which can be anything from half a dozen to a tray of 30.

If you are concerned about food miles, you can see some of the 2,000 laying hens on the farm in the field next to the machine, so it is a zero miles chicken and egg situation.

Alice added: “The other thing is, they’re very fresh, they’re laid that day – some are even still warm when they go in the machine.

“People don’t realise most eggs on the supermarket shelves are a week old when they reach the supermarket.”

Gareth is from a farming family and the couple decided to start their own poultry business in 2003.

They have four sites and, as well as laying hens, they produce birds for meat as well.

Eggs that are not sold directly from the farm go to Gate Farm Eggs for distribution to local retailers.

However, if you do want to buy direct from the farm but prefer the human touch, Valley Farm Poultry will still be opening on Saturdays with a real person to serve you.