We grow as much as we can on our farm; here we know that our food is grown to organic principles and that it has travelled only metres, by foot, from the field to the packing shed – keeping its carbon footprint low to non-existent. When we use outside suppliers to supplement what we have grown ourselves, we do so with four questions at the forefront of our minds:
- Is the product organic?
We do not entertain the idea of using chemicals to grow food. We only use trustworthy suppliers that adhere to the Soil Association organic standards.
- Is the product local?
When we design our VegBoxes we give priority to vegetables grown by us. We’re proud that for 11 weeks from July to October 2016 97% of vegetables in the boxes were from our farm. We then source from farms in close proximity and then UK farms further afield. When there is little or no availability in the UK we buy supplementary fruits and vegetables from mainland Europe. UK availability can be scarce due to seasonality (the “hungry gap” for example), poor yields, end of winter stock (mainly for staple root vegetables) or freak weather conditions.
In practice European vegetables make up a very small proportion of the overall mix. Our fruit boxes typically contain more European produce as the UK fruit season is much shorter than for vegetables. For example, the apple season is generally mid-August to March, the pear season a bit shorter. For fruit and vegetables we avoid air freighted produce or crops grown in heated greenhouses.
We always publish the provenance of the contents of our fruit and VegBoxes on our website and in weekly customer correspondence.
- Is the product in season from where we are buying it from?
Whether we buy from the UK or abroad we always shop with the season.
- Are we sustaining reasonable variety to withstand competition?
To grow our VegBox scheme and support our community farm we need to develop and sustain a product which is exciting for our customers, capable of competing reasonably with similar businesses and is aligned with the values of our farm. At scarce times of the year we need to source from further afield to ensure we are giving our customers as wide a variety of produce as possible whilst remaining true to our principles.
To summarise, this is our five step process to choosing what goes into our fruit and VegBoxes:
- Use the produce available from our farm
- Use the produce available from local organic farms
- Use the produce available from within the UK
- Use seasonal produce available from organic farms in mainland Europe (usually Spain, France, Italy)
- All year round we offer organic bananas from where they are in season
We are transparent when it comes to our produce and policies. Our aim is to provide a variety of fresh, locally produced, organic food all year round and every decision we make is considered carefully to fall in line with our commitment to the One Planet principles.
If you’d like to find out more please feel free to contact us.