Friday, 5 April 2013

Ice Tea?

 Not really the drink for the time of year (well, the weather at the moment at least), but I'm not actually talking about the drink. No, no, no. We were invited to a tea party by the people from Ice and it seemed like a good idea for a trip out during the school holidays. I mean, cake is something my children never turn down so free cake is even better, right?

The venue for the tea party was Farmer Copley's in West Yorkshire, a farm shop who is a member of the Ice scheme, more of which in a moment. They have a fab cafe which produces huge slabs of yummy cakes, a farm shop and lots of fun activities at weekends, although sadly, the weather had put paid to a lot of their outdoor Easter activities.

Still, there were baby chicks to hold. Missy was surprisingly keen to hold them - the chick pecking her hand made her laugh.

I was there, with some other lovely bloggers, to learn about the Ice loyalty scheme. It's a loyalty card, just like the supermarkets have, but one with a difference. Ice aims to be different. They want their loyalty scheme to be beneficial to the environment. Most of its retailers are farm shops, offering mostly locally grown or made produce. Others are public transport operators, as well as some larger national brands like John Lewis and Marks and Spencer. All of them have good environmental credentials - something they must have for Ice to allow them into the scheme.

Points can be earned and spent at the farm shops or by visiting the retailer's sites via the Ice website. Points can be redeemed as total or part payment for purchases, rather than having to cover the total cost like some insist. If you forget to redeem your points - you get 3 years to redeem them - the money is put towards projects that benefit the environment. In terms of the environment, it's a win all round. As a shopper, you're getting to do your bit and perhaps get something back too. It's particularly great to have local farm shops as part of the scheme as it will encourage people to buy local produce, perhaps over buying everything from the supermarket. There aren't too many farm shops across the country at the moment, but hopefully, more will continue to sign up. There are a couple in the North West, including one about half an hour from me which I've been meaning to visit and has a great reputation so I'll be making tracks up there soon.

The kids got to enjoy some Easter fun, doing an egg hunt and quiz around the farm, which gave them the opportunity to see some more animals, and then to meet Jasper the Easter bunny. I think Monkey and Missy Woo cleaned them out of eggs and chocolate bunnies, judging by the amount of chocolate that ended up in my bag.

Ice were kind enough to give us a card already loaded with points, so we had a mooch around the farm shop before we went, taking home some lovely treats, including pork and black pudding sausages and smoked bacon for brunch. It was the best bacon we'd ever tasted, that cooked without leaking all that horrible white liquid all over the pan that cheap stuff does.

If you don't usually shop at a farm shop, it's really worth trying to find a good one in your area. If they're members of Ice, you can register here and start to earn points. And if they're not, suggest they sign up to the scheme so that everyone can start to benefit.

Thanks to Tots 100 and Ice for inviting us, and to Farmer Copleys for being fantastic hosts and providing fantastic cakes. Ice gave me a reward card loaded with some points to spend as I choose. 
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