Box Scheme

12 Nov

Before we moved to England, I was already searching the web for information about box schemes.  What’s that, you ask?  Something about Amway?  No, not at all.  Box schemes have become very popular in the UK as a way for consumers to shop local and for local farmers to sell directly or through small co-ops to consumers — and for small local markets to compete aggressively with chain markets.  While there is a deeply-held philosophy behind eating local, my interest is straightforward: fresh, seasonal, local produce, delivered to my door regularly at a competitive price.  Sounds like a lot to ask but companies are doing it.  Less quantifiable but just as important to me is the sense that we can learn more about our new home through tuning in to the local varieties of produce and following seasonal eating patterns.

Imagine my delight when on one of our first evenings in the UK, we saw an episode of Mary Queen of Shops on BBC where she overhauled a failing greengrocer by helping them develop a veg box scheme.  A clear sign that I was not crazy but was, for once, on trend.  (Also, I got to practice saying “veg box” without feeling like I was saying something dirty.)

A rather desultory look through a A lot of Organics  and Free Range Review, to see what was available in my area and I picked Slipstream Organics for our first try with a local box scheme.  Weekly delivery option for veg, fruit, eggs, and breads, all sourced within 40 miles of town (for the most part), and they have a functional website and answer their email.  Brilliant.  (Why is email important? Because half the time no one understands my American accent, especially over the phone.  If I had to order by phone, I’d probably end up receiving a box exclusively filled with giant brassica.)

I ordered some of everything — bread, eggs, fruit and veg — and on Friday we received —

Two (reusable) boxes, this one on top …

I pulled everything out to exclaim over it all: a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, seasonal variety of veg and fruit …

Check out the soil on that parsnip!  The aroma is earthy, fragrant, clean.

The most adorable squash in the world.

I am so excited to begin this challenge of cooking with local produce, and bringing our plates and palates into season with the countryside around us.  Parsnip and squash soup, anyone?

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3 Responses to “Box Scheme”

  1. Zazzy November 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    I would really love to be able to get those boxes of fruits and veggies. I forget what they call it here but I have friends in the city who do that and it just sounds so much fun to get to try new things and eat really fresh produce. I live out in the country where most of this stuff is grown and there’s not even a good farmer’s market near me.

    • Monique November 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

      Have you seen http://www.localharvest.org? I wonder if any of your local farmers would sell direct to you? It feels hugely luxurious to have a box delivered to my door with all this lovely produce.

      • Zazzy November 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

        Thanks for the link – there appear to be a couple within a fairly reasonable distance if they’re still in business. Looks like a place to start next spring.

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