As I’m writing, the country is blasted by “the beast from the East” with freezing temperatures, icy winds, in some places even snow and it’s hard to imagine that winter is coming to an end. Yet for us vegetable growers, the new season has already started, the first seeds have been sown, compost has been spread and decisions are being made about what to grow where. Soon, the Green Isle Growers veg bags will reappear to bring fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit to our customers.
If you were wondering whether to join or re-join, let me give you some very good reasons why it would be a good idea to do so:
- Climate change: we all want to do our bit to safeguard our children’s future, but it can be quite confusing how to best go about this. You might have changed your light bulbs, insulated your loft, turned the thermostat down and take your own cloth bags to the shops, so what more can you do? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot! According to the Carbon Trust:
“About a fifth of the average personal carbon footprint – the total amount of carbon we produce from all our activities and the choices we make in our daily lives – comes from the food we eat.”
A large proportion of this carbon is generated by the way your food is grown and a similar amount accounts for transport, refrigeration and packaging, especially when it comes to out of season produce. And surprisingly, a lot of the food we buy is never eaten, but ends up in the bin.
At Green Isles Growers we are committed to low carbon ways of growing; minimizing tillage and use of fossil fuels, we don’t use toxic chemicals or artificial fertilizers. We grow our crops close to where they are consumed, keeping the food miles down and reducing the need for refrigeration. And because the veggies are picked only the day before they go to the customer, they keep much longer, avoiding waste.
- Support for your community: thriving, vibrant local economies make for healthy communities. We need the local jobs that keep money circulating within the locality, rather than it draining away into anonymous shareholder pockets. Research has shown that for every £10 that is spend with a local independent trader, up to an additional £50 goes back into the local economy.
In rural areas like Powys, meaningful jobs are few and far between. All our growers live, work and shop locally. They are involved in community projects, like Edible Mach and others. You might even know them! In summer, we open up our sites to the public, so you can come and see for yourself how your vegetables are grown.
- Good value for money: we pay our growers a fair price for their produce. If vegetables at the supermarkets are cheaper than ours, it is because many of the true costs are not included in the price to the consumer. The downward pressures exerted on food prices by the big supermarkets have driven producers to unsustainable practices for which we all are paying the price. New research by the Sustainable Food Trust finds that for every pound spend on food in the shops, UK citizens incur an additional hidden cost of £1.
- Great flavour, less packaging: because our produce does not have to conform to ridiculous standards, we can grow varieties for flavour, rather than uniformity. You also won’t find shrink wrapped cucumbers in our bags, we only use plastic packaging where absolutely necessary to comply with Food Hygiene Standards and to prevent food waste. All the plastic bags that we use are of good quality and can be washed and reused by our customers. And this year we will be offering to recycle any plastic waste generated by us. Just return any unwanted plastic bags in your veg bags and we will make sure they are properly recycled.
I hope having this information will help you to reach the right decision for you and your family. Our goals are to support our growers by giving them decent prices for their produce and to work co-operatively. We want to increase local veg and fruit production and bring more people into local horticulture, by offering training and volunteering opportunities. But most of all, we want to share with you the fruit of our labours: fresh, tasty healthy veg and fruit without nasty chemicals, grown with respect for planet and people and we invite you all to join us in eating our way to a lower carbon footprint!
This year Green Isle Growers are hoping to expand their customer base in order to make our veg bag scheme more viable, if you know anybody who you think might like a weekly bag of fresh, local veg, please help us out and point them our way!
Ann Owen, Einion’s Gardens