Action Stations - Teals Somerset Articles


Fresh Local Vegetables

Author: Nick Sinfield

As I stood listening to Greta Thunberg at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, I found myself wondering how many of those 1000s gathered together for those 15 minutes in that sunny field would go on to answer her call for immediacy of action. I wasn’t hopeful.

For although there was a remarkability about Greta that day, it was (for me) in the gaping contrast between the tininess of her form on that epic stage and the almost unbearably enormous scale of the challenge she so regularly asks us all to meet.

I understand the message and she communicates it with brilliant consistency. And yet for all its earnestness what was missing that afternoon was connection. I needed something (or someone) to help connect me more emphatically to Greta’s undeniable single-mindedness and anger and provide greater tangibility to the call-to-action. Instead, I left hungry for next year’s primetime slot to deliver far greater impact beyond the Somerset skyline.

In contrast, Michael and Emily Eavis’ solstice gathering was remarkable for its sense of connection. Between tent neighbours, between people and the land and most noticeably between performers and their audiences. Starved of this scale of crowd through the pandemic, the level of emotion in performances extended beyond the well-celebrated highs that Glastonbury so often delivers. The connection, realised in all the joy and tears, was next level.

As a pending B Corporation* we have admired the Glastonburys of this world that have chosen to become a force for good and, like them, we hope to achieve this through the impact we too can make on people and planet.

Our ‘home’ on the A303 at North Cadbury was built with materials that tread lightly on the environment, our solar panels carry the weight of much of our electricity and we don’t use gas. In time we’ll have electric vehicle chargers sitting alongside our bike hoops. We work hard to find good local people to work with, seek out small producers and makers from the region to represent, and cook with locally sourced ingredients from scratch.

And yet we still wonder how much we matter? Do our guests recognise Ed Hawkins’ climate graphic behind our counter for what it is or do they just think it’s nice wallpaper? Have we done a good enough job informing our guests and where is the line between informing and pushing? Ultimately to matter more we’ve decided to set out this year to build an even greater connection between our team, guests and the spirit of our region. We now have a little gang of ‘B Keepers’ from all parts of the team. One afternoon this month they gathered amongst the trees in the orchard and worked up a list of tangible immediate actions we could take to improve our impact, along with a few slower burns. Last week the first of those became a reality – our used coffee grounds now go to Tom at The Apothecary Garden in Butleigh, to produce compost that will feed Somerset beds, at the same time reducing the volume and cost of our recycling collections.

Teals Farm Shop a303 Somerset
Teals Farm Shop a303 Somerset
Teals Farm Shop a303 Somerset

So was this Greta’s hope and aim? That even though the bigger challenge feels almost insurmountable, those listening to her go on to affect small behaviour changes (like compost recycling) that combined, add up to meaningful difference and by extension help to maintain awareness of the bigger challenge.

Some lucky businesses are born to change the world. Belu (pronounced ‘blue’) encourages its restaurant partners to sell water and give 50% of the income back to them, which in turn they pass to Wateraid, who provide important respite to underserved communities in the developing world. By extension, we and our guests make a valuable contribution and are positively reminded of the difference we collectively make to that cause.

Other businesses are founded on a purpose and use it to build communities of like-minded people who together create change. Finisterre, the Cornish cold water surf brand, famous for its wetsuits made from recycled materials, continues to break new ground in the remarkable development of clothing and accessories produced better by people and for the planet. As with Patagonia, their voice is clear, well directed and impactful.

In this respect at Teals, we anchor more strongly in ‘purpose’, than pure sustainability, seeing sustainability and community as important outputs of purpose. If we are purposeful in balancing the interests of all stakeholders, rather than simply owners or shareholders, we know the business of doing business can lead more readily to positive impact.

Relationships with guests that are personal, informative and enriching, lead to more sustainable levels of loyalty and appreciation, which in turn preserve jobs and supply chains.

Relationships with producers and makers that balance the interest of guests, producers and retailers enable all parties to benefit productively and improve the chance for producers to grow and create new jobs. Connecting producers with guests develops a stronger awareness and appreciation of the specialness of a region and builds community.

The remaining days and hours in that field just south of Pilton were some to cherish. In the 5 days around the festival, the Eavis’ succeeded in connecting their guests to not only great music and performing arts, but also to nature, heritage and, most of all, community. Through their ongoing generosity and constant innovation, the annual pilgrimage to The Land of the Somer people brightens the lives of 1000s in fields and living rooms, builds important movements and raises millions for charity.

What better example of using business as a force for good, what better platform for Greta to share her message. There’s definitely hope after all.

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