THEY are the organisation that offers unique and exciting artisan produce. And they haven’t let Covid get in their way!

New Forest Marque (NFM) is a membership organisation which promotes and showcases local produce, with partners ranging from farmers to artists.

Their role: To champion local food, drink, and craft producers in the New Forest - and all members are required to meet vigorous criteria to join.

Set up 15 years ago by Claire Lee, the organisation now boasts more than 150 members, and is supported by the New Forest National Park Authority.

She said: “Our members range from farmers and grower to producers processors and artists and creative types and include hospitality and retail businesses who put local produce at the centre of what they offer their customers.

“The NFM has developed to embrace all those finished products and services reflect their pride and care for the New Forest. The sign of true local produce.”

However, it’s not all been plain sailing over the past year. Claire added: “Covid has forced all of our members to adapt and change their working practices.

“Our farmer and grower members have seen increases in demand when national supply chains were struggling in the early days.

“Produce members have seen their hospitality outlet dry up overnight with lockdown restrictions forcing closures but an increase in demand direct form consumers and from our local independent retailers who have been supporting their local communities.

“Hospitality has had to pivot and re-invent to offer home deliveries and takeaway and look at ways of providing for the needs of their customers. “The awareness of local and artisan produce has increased and the need for all our members to have an online presence has never been more obvious.” Asked what it is about the organisation which keeps customers coming back, she said: “Customers keep coming back to enjoy the fantastic and unique artisan produce available from Marque members.

“The network of member across the forest allows us to showcase a wide range of fantastic produce.

“Customers know and understand that by purchasing NFM logoed product that are supporting a local business and enjoying produce with a true local provenance.”

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