We are truly committed to creating a viable alternative local food system, one that values farmers and truly sustainable production methods, as well as making high-quality produce affordable and convenient for consumers. Our buying policy reflects this, and can be summarised as follows:
- We buy from farms that are within 50 miles of the city whenever possible.
- We buy from other UK farms when local production is in short supply.
- We buy from EU wholesalers for items that cannot be grown in the UK.
- We buy from EU wholesalers crops which can be grown in the UK but are unavailable.
- We do not buy air-freighted produce.
- We occasionally buy produce from outside the EU in order to give variety during the hungry gap (mostly for fruit bags).
Working with growers:
- We maximise the benefit to the local economy by prioritising local growers.
- We aim to pay growers a price based on the true costs of organic production.
- We support and work with new growers by purchasing from them as they convert – see below for more explanation.
- We work with growers to coordinate crops planted, aiming to reduce risk and wastage for growers and to expand the variety of crops available for us.
We believe that regenerative soil management and sustainable crop production are essential for the future of society and the planet, and that organic certification is the best way of ensuring this. Our box scheme is registered and certified with the Soil Association. All our growers are certified, or are in the process of becoming certified (see below for more info on converting to organic). We subscribe to organic standards for these reasons:
- Increased biodiversity – organic farming increases biodiversity greatly
- Reduced carbon footprint – organic farming lowers carbon emissions substantially
- Food sovereignty – localised organic farming reduces reliance on long supply chains giving more control to the people producing the food and to those eating it
- Soil health – organic methods help build up the fertility of the soil, making it healthier and more productive
- Artificial chemicals – organic foods contain far, far fewer artificial chemicals
- Environmental pollution – organic production reduces pollution of soil and water courses (and therefore also reduces the annual cost to the public purse of cleaning that pollution up)
- Taste - we find that fresh locally grown organic food just tastes better…
Converting to organic:
Converting land to organic status requires the soil to be farmed for two full years using solely organic methods before the produce can then be officially labelled as organic. During the first year, it carries no official status. In the second year it can be legally referred to as ‘in-conversion’, before being certified organic from the third year onwards.
We have chosen to sell the produce coming from converting land at the beginning of the process. This means that some of our produce has to be labelled 'non-certified'. We have chosen to do this for three principal reasons:
- Farming is hard. Organic farming – where chemical inputs for pest-control or for artificial fertility are not permitted – is even harder. The exposure to risk and the extra labour required is greater when you're growing without chemical inputs. We believe that farmers choosing to begin the process of conversion should be paid commensurably when they are producing exceptional produce using farming methods that are organic.
- Converting local land to organic status is one of our primary ambitions. In order to make a practical and immediate impact on the amount of local produce being grown organically, we feel that we and our customers should have the opportunity to choose to support local growers who are starting to convert.
- It’s not all about the money. Initiating the process of converting to organic means that the process of bettering the environment begins. We think we have a duty of care to the soil. Growers taking the risk in converting to organic and selling their produce through us are more able to have an impact on everything from the extraordinary microorganisms that thrive in organically-farmed soils to the plants and wild fauna – including us - that depend on a more naturally-balanced ecosystem.
So when we tell you what's in your veg boxes, we will specify whether the produce is:
- 'non-certified' – from growers in the first year of their conversion to organic;
- 'in conversion to organic' – from growers in their second year of converting;
- organic – from any growers in their third year and beyond.
We believe this policy makes buying through Veg Box People meaningful. Not only are you choosing to buy your produce locally, you're also helping growers convert their land to organic production – thereby playing a very important and practical role in improving and protecting the land around us.