Tag Archives: boxes

boxes, websites & the search for a better way

Please, please send us back those empty boxes. We are even keener to get them back right now, before we move onto our revamped box range in June, making it hard to reuse any old boxes lurking in the back of your garage. Please leave out any boxes for your vegman/lady to collect and we will do the rest.

You may have noticed some weird things happening on our website recently, while we changed the mechanics underneath. Sorry to those of you affected. I am pretty sure that by the time you read this we will have resolved the problems, but if you are having any trouble with logging in or with payments, call us on 01803 762059 and we will help you.

We had been swimming along for too long with an idiosyncratic system that had evolved over twenty years, and have now moved to a more conventional platform that will let us join the rest of the world and move forward. Even with much planning and many sleepless nights from our IT crew, it was never going to be easy. But the change will allow us to do lots of things better in the future.

The vegbox scheme is our way of matching grower supply and customer demand. It gives growers a secure market for their produce (instead of having to brave the brutal open market), and brings customers fresher, tastier fruit and veg with known provenance. It works wonderfully for us and for our farmers, but makes the dubious assumption that you are all pretty much the same; clearly a problem. The web, along with savvy IT, offers so many exciting possibilities to do things better: to reduce waste, to inform and inspire you in the kitchen and to tailor our deliveries to your cooking style.

I want to share with you the excitement I feel when I walk around the farm planning recipes for my supper, to make use of seasonal food at its peak and to keep the journey as short and swift as possible. I want to auction you a boat’s catch before it has landed, to sell wild garlic and nettles from our woods when they are at their very best, to stop sending Jerusalem artichokes to people who can’t take the wind… This is hugely exciting, but to make it happen we need those clever spods in IT just as much as we need the burly farmers.

Thanks to your efforts, we have been nominated for two Observer Ethical Awards this year. We’ve made the final shortlist for Retailer of the Year, and I’m proud to be nominated for Campaigner of the Year.

Thank you

Guy Watson

Box amnesty

Environmentally, there is no such thing as good packaging; only some that is less bad. Recycling can help but it is a poor substitute for reuse or, even better, not using the stuff in the first place. So why do we use any at all? Some leafy veg, like spinach and lettuce, dehydrates so quickly that not using bags results in pointless waste. Similarly, tomatoes and mushrooms need protection and potato bags retain the mud and exclude light to prevent greening. We have done a lot of work with Exeter University to find the ‘least worst’ option for what to use, with some surprising and counterintuitive results. You can read more at www.riverfordenvironment.co.uk.

The veg boxes themselves are designed to be reused many times. If they were all returned we would get around 10 trips per box, but we currently only achieve four because so many are not. If you can reuse them, we are happy. But if not, we want them back, even if they are damaged. If the boxes were all returned, we could more than halve their environmental impact. This is what we would like you to do:

  • Veg boxes: fold flat by pushing the ends in so the bottom goes down (not up into the box) and leave out for collection. This is the single biggest thing you can do to help.
  • Plastic bags: leave out in your veg box for us to recycle.
  • Paper bags and punnets: reuse as seed trays, lunch bags, compost bin liners etc, then compost, or put out for recycling with your paper (if clean).
  • Meat box packaging: we’d like the box, gel packs and insulated liner back for reuse. Anything that has touched the meat must go out with your rubbish.
  • Plastic punnets: we use few of these so do not have a recycling route. Please put them out with the rest of your rubbish.

Thanks for your help.

Guy Watson

good looking boxes

big-lunch-boxit’s been a good growing year so far and our boxes are looking great. Our most recent box is the Big Lunch Box, enough to make scrumptious salads for 8 people with fresh fruit & cream for dessert. Find out more about our box on our website.

Price Comparison – great value vegbox

In a moment of procrastination I decided to weigh out all the veg in today’s Summer box, and compare the cost with how much I would have had to spend in the supermarkets to get the same produce.

I visited the online shopping sites of Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, and created a shopping basket to resemble the summer box as closely as possible. In each case I included delivery – £5 for Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, and £4.50 for Tesco (cheapest options).
Here are the results:
Waitrose, £28.13. I could not source organic basil leaves or organic radish, so non-organic prices were used. I could not source Red Chard, so the closest I could find was spinach, for the purposes of costing. There were 60 grams less broad beans, and 50 grams more radish.

Sainsbury’s, £27.48. Broad beans and basil were non-organic. The spring onions were 20g lighter, the spinach 40g lighter, the mushrooms 70g lighter, and not portabella but white field mushrooms. There were more broad beans, though: 500g instead of 360g in the summer box. Again, chard wasn’t available so I substituted spinach.

Tesco, c£26.00. Couldn’t be more precise as I couldn’t source broad beans or chard, and the courgettes didn’t show a weight, but I got to £23.84 substituting spinach for chard, and by including a 3-pack of courgettes (there were also 3 in the summer box), and leaving out broad beans entirely as I couldn’t think of a suitable replacement. The tomatoes were 100g lighter, the mushrooms 70g lighter, the radish 50g lighter, the basil 25g heavier, spring onion 25g heavier than the summer box items. Basil, spring onion and radish not organic.

The Riverswale box at £12.96 delivered (inc debit card charge) is fab value, before you even consider the better quality produce, and even if you forget the delivery charges of the supermarkets.

I look forward to next week’s box.
David (River Swale customer)