We heard from a really interesting local veg box scheme recently and thought we’d invite Chris Pryke to tell you a bit more about what they do and how it works. If you are in the Nottingham area and you are interested in local veg box schemes why not get in touch?
Ecoworks Vegboxes- The Nottingham box scheme with added social aims
Ecoworks has been delivering veg boxes in Nottingham for over 18 months now, and we like to think we’re getting pretty good at it. Ecoworks is an environmental community organisation established back in 1992, with the key aim of helping socially-disadvantaged people to enjoy and improve their local environment. Since then we have taken on 13 projects, all aiming to make Nottingham a more vibrant, inclusive and beautiful place to live.
Our vegboxes form a cornerstone of this work. We use them to promote the local-food movement, bringing its benefits to a much wider range of communities and giving people access to a healthier lifestyle without paying through the nose for supermarket organics. Our boxes (well, they’re green bags actually!) contain a mixture of fruit, vegetables, herbs and salad that are a healthy and affordable option for the all people of Nottingham.
Alongside the obvious environmental benefits of a local vegbox scheme, all of Ecoworks’ projects aim to increase social inclusion too, ensuring that people on low incomes can play an active part in our society’s transition to sustainability. That’s our key aim. The business-ey types out their might even call it our “unique selling point”.
All we know is that the environment and communities are integrated in a very fundamental way. This isn’t anything hippy or “new age” necessarily- it just makes sense. Every environmental problem is rooted in a social problem. Environmental sustainability can only go hand-in-hand with social inclusion.
In our vegbox scheme these values are at the forefront of our work- essentially what we do is sell full price vegboxes to those with decent incomes and then use any profit from that to subsidise boxes for those on low incomes or the unemployed. That way, everyone gets a chance to be part of the local-food movement
Our key aims in providing vegboxes:
To make quality local produce affordable- for those who are unemployed or on low income, it costs £3.50 per week for a small bag suitable for 2 people, or £7 per week to feed 3-4. If customers are lucky enough to have a job, we ask for £5 and £10 respectively. This is still cheaper than supermarket organics, and allows us to keep subsidising those who can’t afford more.
To really reduce food miles- On the most part, our produce is grown in Nottingham and eaten in Nottingham. Proper local. When joining our box scheme customers can choose from one of 10 collection points around Nottingham. We worked out that if we were to aim for super convenience like the Riverford’s of the vegbox world and deliver door-to-door, we would end up chugging our van over 100 miles around the city each week. With the collection point system (at libraries, community centres and some housing co-operatives around the city) we can truly minimize the carbon-footprint of our produce. We’ve found this also has a side effect of getting people more involved with their local community centres!
To support local communities- The produce in our vegboxes is grown by local people, the majority of it on our gardens in Nottingham. They provide an income for a host of local growers, whilst ensuring that we are able to continue our work with socially disadvantaged people in Nottingham.
Want to try one? Well, just take a look at www.ecoworks.org.uk for more information and to order yours. Alternatively you can give us a call on 0115 962 2200, send an email to email@example.com, or even better come and visit us and see the gardens for yourselves! (guest post by Chris Pryke)