The sign is unmissable, the words are apologetic but uncompromising. “Sorry we are closed on Sundays.” And underneath, in case anyone missed the religious subtext: “Exodus 20 v 8-11”.“Some people wondered why we were saying sorry,” says Robert Todd, owner of Blacketyside farm and shop with his wife Eleanor, “But we felt that if you have been coming for quite a long time and enjoying a Sunday lunch, you may be a wee bit disappointed. So we’re sorry for that, but also telling you where to go to find out why we’re closed.”
The Todds have farmed Blacketyside, near Leven in Fife, since 1990. The 285 acres are mostly given up to spring oats and spring barley for animal feed (they won’t sell to the distilleries), and soft fruit for pick-your-own customers as well as various shops and supermarkets. They opened the shop in 2007, a typical farm diversification selling food and gifts, with a café. Their January 2011 announcement that they would no longer open on Sundays caused a stir locally, and even made the newspapers.
Robert explains that while they had always been believers, they became ‘born again’ Christians in May 2010, after reading the books of South African farmer evangelist Angus Buchan (Angus came to Scotland last year for a mission event at Blacketyside) and going through the Alpha Course. The decision to close on Sundays followed their baptism at Leven Baptist Church. “As you journey through life, this is your opportunity to be right with God,” says Robert. “Do you believe in Him or not, are you going to do what he asks of you in the Bible? I want to stand up for the Gospel of our Lord. The shop has a Gospel section and we hold a Gospel meeting on the last Saturday each month.”
The decision seems even more impressive when he adds that Sunday was the shop’s most lucrative day of the week. “Now the turnover is greater in 6 days than it was in 7,” he says. “But you have got to have faith that if you take God at his word and follow him, He will bless you. Now we’re open six days a week, and the Lord has blessed us by bringing in more people on those six days. “Church people have been wonderful at supporting us since we made the decision. We have had people travelling from different parts of the country and we get some lovely letters from people saying they visited and enjoyed it, and it’s lovely that the place is closed on a Sunday. And while he admits that it would be easier to open on Sundays, he is adamant that will not happen. “You cannot serve two masters. You journey with the Lord on this narrow road, it’s not always easy and there’s always temptation, but for sure I know that I am on the right path, and I just want to share with others and help other people find what we have found.”
The Sunday closing obviously hasn’t hurt too much. “We opened an extension to the shop in December 2011 and now have a butchery, flower shop and plant centre. I just put my trust in the Lord every day that He will continue to bring the
people in. For sure, there’s no turning back.”
Please pray: that this testimony will turn the hearts of many to God, especially in the farming community, so that God may truly bless and heal the land.