“A lot of time and energy has gone into getting Farm Shop Online set up. It was a real sense of achievement when we got over 150 products on our website in only 10 days. We are looking at developing meat boxes, BBQ packs and breakfast boxes. There is huge potential to create a whole new business online.”
Meet the Team – Lizzie West Operations Manager at the Cowdray Farm Shop
- In a nutshell, what are your key responsibilities in your current role?
My main responsibilities are fulfilling the online orders and ensuring that the Farm Shop products are on the website with the correct product descriptions and all the allergens clearly labelled. I liaise closely with Martha Ffooks, the Farm Shop Manager, who oversees sourcing new products, to ensure that we keep up to date with the right products available online.
A lot of time and energy has gone into getting Farm Shop Online set up. It was a real sense of achievement when we got over 150 products on our website in only 10 days. We are looking at developing online meat boxes, BBQ packs and breakfast boxes. There is huge potential to create a whole new business online, which is exciting.
I am also in charge of fulfilling the Cowdray picnic hamper orders, which involves liaising with the kitchen, the bakery, the Deli and ensuring that they are properly packed up ready for customer collection. We have just refreshed the picnic hamper offering which can be enjoyed all year round but hampers are particularly popular during the summer polo season. The Gold Cup is our busiest time for hampers – last year we fulfilled 175 hamper orders on Semi Finals Day.
I am also in charge of making sure all the products in the Farm Shop are labelled correctly with the allergens in bold. These legally need to be listed in a particular order – the ingredients with the largest gross weight need to be on the label first.
The other aspect to my job is attending food shows and organising the Farm Shop Tasting Weekends. I love the opportunity to get to know our suppliers and meet them in person.
The Summer Tasting Weekend is Saturday July 2nd and Sunday July 3rd – this will be bigger and better this year and a good date for the diary!
- Farm Shop Online is an exciting new project. Can you talk through the logistics of fulfilling online orders?
It’s not as simple as packing everything in a box, putting a label on it and sending it off. There is a lot of administrative work that goes with it.
Every product in the order is carefully selected with the longest possible use by date. We have recently started being able to fulfil butchery orders online as well as delivering chilled products, which is exciting. Regarding the meat, I liaise with Steve Page, the Head Butcher, to make sure that the best cut of meat with the longest use by date is sent to the customer.
We have also extensively researched packaging to make sure our deliveries arrive in the most environmentally friendly way. The products are wrapped in Woolcool; eco-friendly insulated packaging made from 100 per cent pure wool. This can be reused in many inventive ways in the home and the garden. The tape that we use doesn’t have glue on it ensuring that the whole box is much easier to recycle and reuse.
- When did you start at Cowdray, and can you describe your career progression?
I started working at Cowdray over 10 years ago as an assistant in the Farm Shop Café. I then worked my way up to Deputy Manager. During lockdown, I started to help in the Farm Shop. I enjoyed my time there so much that I transferred departments and became the Assistant Manager.
I was delighted when the opportunity arose to apply for the position of Operations Manager. I felt I was well suited to the role as I have a real understanding of how the whole Farm Shop & Café business works.
- What first attracted you to work at Cowdray?
I used to regularly visit the Café with a friend, and I have always loved the beautiful area around the Café with the Ruins and Lawns nearby. When I was leaving my previous employer, I saw a job advertised at the Café and thought it was the perfect fit.
Having lived in Midhurst all my life, I was very familiar with Cowdray. I now live with my fiancée in a pretty village not much further than Butser Hill, south of Petersfield.
- Your fiancée is the Head Chef at Cowdray? Did you meet at work?
Ben and I met at Cowdray and quickly became very good friends. We began to spend more and more time together, and there has always been good chemistry between us. We are now engaged but in no rush to get married!
Ben has been at Cowdray for 11½ years and has been the Head Chef for 7 years. We have separate roles at work, but we both love food, and we chat endlessly about recipe and menu ideas at home!
- What is the best aspect of your role?
I love the diversity of my role. Everyday I’m doing something different and there are lots of projects to get my teeth into particularly Farm Shop Online. I enjoy learning about new things too. For example, until recently I knew nothing about WooCommerce and how to work the back of a website.
- You liaise with Ben regarding recipes, can you expand on this?
Yes! Ben has made a delicious ‘Vegan Jersey Royal Potato Salad with Blood Oranges and Artichokes’. This is on the Journal page of the Cowdray website along with his other recipes.
We try to do three recipe cards a month and they seem to be incredibly popular with customers as they fly out of the Farm Shop.
Ben and I love discussing food, and Ben uses seasonal products where possible in his recipes, as well as foraged food which can be found on the Estate.
- If you could choose one product from the Farm Shop to buy, what would it be?
That’s a tough question. I would have to say a Saint Félicien cheese from the Deli counter. This is a soft cow’s milk cheese that originated from the farms in the Rhone-Alpes region of France.
- What is your favourite drink or food from the Café?
I love the Ras el Hanout Spiced Cauliflower Salad. This dish is delicious, and filling and I love that it uses the entire cauliflower so there is no waste. I also try not to eat too much meat.
- What are your interests outside work?
I love painting. I have been a keen watercolourist my entire life and have always found it very relaxing.
- Where is your favourite place to go on holiday?
Ben and I love Cornwall. We both holidayed there with our parents as children, but I would say we probably love Italy more. We would really like to hire a campervan and travel along the Amalfi Coast.
- Outside work, what means the most to you?
Spending time with my family. Ben’s daughter Grace, who is now 12, is with us a lot of the time which is very special. I have been together with Ben since she was three – we are a close family unit.
I also have two sisters and one brother. Throughout the year we quite often organise weekends where all of us can get together as a family which is lively to say the least.
- What can’t you live without?
Anyone who knows me would say, tea!
Written by Matilda Reid.Back to News