Get local farm produce delivered to your home or a local pick-up point – usually weekly or sometimes fortnightly. It’s not just about vegetables – boxes can also contain fruit, herbs, eggs, dairy produce, meat, honey or anything else you stipulate that you’d like from your local scheme, if available. We’re talking about independent, local schemes rather than the two giants, Abel & Cole and Riverford; and corporate supermarkets are starting to join in too – avoid.
Click here for more information and resources on veg box schemes.
What to do
1. Find and join your local box scheme
There are several sites with listings of local veg box schemes, for example here or here (or here for specifically organic schemes), or search online for veg box and the name of your town. Call your local scheme or see their website for details. With some schemes you can arrange your order online.
2. Using a box scheme
Think about what you want and the questions you need to ask. Are you just after fruit and veg? Can you cancel your order when you go on holiday? Can you opt out of any specific foods (in most schemes, you can opt out of 2-3 types of veg)? Do you have somewhere to leave your delivery, or is there a local pick-up point?
Organise your delivery. If you’re out on delivery day, there needs to be a dry, shady place to leave your delivery. If you don’t have a place like that, then usually you can arrange for your box to be delivered to a local drop-off point, where you can collect it in the evening. There are different sized boxes, depending on the size of your household, or you could even share a box with a neighbour, and you can have weekly or fortnightly deliveries.
Farmers / smallholders
One hectare typically provides for around 60 veg boxes, but you won’t be producing one or two crops – more like 50 is the norm. At some times of year, you could use polytunnels, get food in from elsewhere, or close down for a couple of months. Do your sums and see if the amount of land you have can cover your costs. Remember that you’ll be spending time and fuel on deliveries, but if you can build a customer base, you’ll have a guaranteed market without the price squeezes, cancelled contracts and food waste that you get when dealing with supermarkets.
However, many growers are not up for the marketing side of things, and so they produce food for an existing local scheme, or form a co-operative with other local growers. Sometimes, groups of local people set up schemes, and collect produce from local growers.