A dad who opened up his dream farm shop to help him overcome his mental health struggles is gearing up to celebrate its first anniversary.
Craig Kennedy, 37, decided to take the plunge in May last year and open up his business alongside his partner Paula Ramsay, 34.
The Houston couple spent months renovating the stables on their farm to create Swanieston Farm Shop and realize their dream.
Tree surgeon Craig first decided to work on his plans for the shop in 2020 during the first lockdown.
Being stuck at home and unable to work flared his difficulties with anxiety, leaving him struggling with his mental health.
But having the farm shop project completely transformed his outlook.
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Craig told the Paisley Daily Express: “I suffer from anxiety and have had some issues with my mental health in the past.
“The busier I am, the less I struggle.
“During first lockdown I was off work for three months and I had to figure out what I was going to do.
“My partner and I came up with the idea of creating the farm shop.
“We started clearing out the stables and we started converting it.
“During the second lockdown I wanted to keep busy so we just decided to go for it.
“We started the process and we opened in May 2021.
“It’s something I have always wanted to do.
“It has really helped my mental health and I have noticed a big difference in myself.”
Now almost a year since launching their business, Craig and Paula are delighted to have made their lockdown plans a reality.
The couple have welcomed a few new additions to their adventure, having welcomed their first child Parker six months ago.
They also added some four-legged pets to the business in the form of adorable Shetland ponies Morag and Jessica, who live at the farm shop.
Craig is keen to work with local businesses and promote local products in his store as well as offering fresh fruit and vegetables from markets across the country.
He added: “We have a number of things that we sell in shops that are from small businesses across Scotland and I would really like to work with some people in the local area too.
“A lot of small businesses have suffered in the last few years due to covid so I think it’s important to support them how we can.
“We want to have as much Scottish produce as we can.”
The dad-of-one is hopeful his business can continue to thrive for years to come, adding: “It feels amazing to have been open for almost a year.
“It was difficult as it is all new to me and Paula but I would love to build this as a family business, especially since we have Parker now.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.