South & South East London
BY NICK MACMAHON | 1 AUG 2019
Local Greens is a not-for-profit, fruit and vegetable bag scheme based in Herne Hill, South London. They provide a weekly service, delivering bags of fresh vegetables, fruit and grains, all from farms situated close to London. They have 5 different ‘bags’ to choose from, ranging in size and contents. They start at £8.25 for a small bag and up to £23 for the largest bag. You can choose the size, but you don’t get to choose what comes in the bag, that is determined by what’s in season and what the farmers can provide that week.
The way it works is, you sign up for a subscription and every week you pick up a bag of veggies from a designated collection point. There are currently 28 collection points around south and south east London which are a collection of cafes, pubs, council offices and even a shed in someone’s front garden. The locations are chosen to make collecting your bag as easy and accessible as possible, designed so that you can pick up your bag via your way home from work. The bags are packed on Thursday morning and sent out in the afternoon. You then have Thursday afternoon until close of business Friday evening to collect your bag.
Local Greens exists to give people easy access to local produce. Not everyone has the ability or the luxury of free time to visit a farmers market each weekend. And the bulk of what is on offer at supermarkets is either from large-scale industrial farms or shipped in from overseas. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that we do have to use supermarkets for many things, but if there is an option to get fresh fruit and vegetables from local and sustainable sources, then why not? There has been this idea that organic or local food is always much more expensive and that may have been the case when the demand for organic produce first began. But now, eating seasonally and locally means it isn’t really more expensive.
Local Greens works with Better Food Traders; a group that represents the many vegetable bag/box schemes throughout London. Utilising group buying power and consolidating transportation of the produce helps to reduce financial and environmental costs.
As a bag scheme user myself, I can honestly tell you that the value of bag schemes is far greater than simply ‘buying a bag of veggies’.
For one, the contents of the bag are constantly changing. As vegetables come in and out of season, what you get in your bag will change. Summer is full of things like peppers, beans, cucumbers and courgettes. If you choose to add fruits, your bag will follow the fruit season, berries then plums then apples. As autumn comes along, there are pumpkins and squashes. Then as winter comes, it’s root vegetables and cabbages. This seasonal way of eating is a great way of eating. It makes you think about how our food grows and what you’re eating. It’s eating as humans have done throughout history. Sure, we don’t have to do it, but putting some limitations on what you eat makes you appreciate what is available. Not being able to eat fresh raspberries through the winter months will get you pretty excited for the start of summer when those punnets of British berries come out.
Another aspect of the ever-changing variety of vegetables you get in your bag is getting to cook and eat vegetables you wouldn’t usually buy. As an example, I never really bought beetroot, not because I had an aversion to it, I just didn’t often think about adding it to my shopping list. But now, I enjoy getting beetroot in my bag and working out how to use it in my cooking. If I don’t make a beetroot-specific dish through the week I will roast the beetroot and keep in in the fridge, adding beetroot to whatever I can. Beetroot and cheddar sandwiches, anyone?”
It’s a great way to *force* you to cook and eat things you might not usually buy. Instead of going out to buy a mass-produced sandwich from your local chain cafe, why not stir fry that bag of chard you have in the fridge? Maybe add some of the aforementioned beetroot. The frequency of getting new vegetables each week makes you cook more too. New bag tomorrow? Better make room in the fridge by using up this cabbage. If in doubt, make sauerkraut. Is that a saying? It should be. It sounds good.
Having a load of vegetables in your fridge also means you cut down on the number of trips to the shop you make. Not to mention, the all-too-common occurrence of getting home after work, you’re exhausted and there is nothing in the fridge. You don’t feel like going out again and it’s just so easy to open up an app and order pizza or a load of curries. A veg bag saves you time and it helps your wallet and waistline.
If you are interested in trying it out, there are many vegetable schemes catering to different areas of London.
Local Greens - South and South East London
Growing Communities - North and North East London
Kentish Town VegBox - Kentish Town
Angel Greens - Islington/King's Cross
Field to Fork Organics - North West London
Lee Greens - South East London
Enfield Veg Co. - Enfield
Crop Drop - Haringey