box amnesty + last chance to grow your own

When we measured our carbon footprint with Exeter University in 2007, I was horrified to find that our packaging makes up 10% of it. As the vegboxes account for a fair chunk (despite being made from 95% recycled materials that are 100% recyclable) getting the most out of them is clearly important. By doing our best to patch up the salvageable ones, we reckon each box can do ten trips before becoming irretrievably dirty or damaged. However in reality we only get three or four trips, simply because we don't get them back. A few have been used as nesting boxes for kittens, storing books, and at least one as a sledge (which all count as re-using, so we’re happy), but most must end up in the rubbish. This is my annual plea that you please, please put them out for collection by your vegman, as reusing is much better than recycling. We are also happy to take back our plastic bags to ensure they get recycled, as most local authorities won’t take them.

It’s a joy to be a Devon farmer in this wonderfully dry spring. Ironically this is being written in the back of a hire car in Andalusia between visits to Paco, another Paco and Pepe - our tomato, pepper and asparagus growers respectively - whose produce is vital to keeping the vegboxes full and varied through the ‘hungry gap’ of April and May. Racing through the parched foothills of the Sierra Nevada from Motril to Granada, it seems ridiculous to be worrying about drought in verdant Devon. However I’m starting to get a little nervous about early crops planted beyond the reach of irrigation back home. Mostly though, the team are enjoying the dry weather and keeping busy planting carrots, potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, salad greens, artichokes and spinach in perfect conditions.

For any of you who have a few tillable yards or are feeling a rising of sap and a mounting urge to dig and sow, we have a few of our veg and herb Boxes to Grow left. This year you also have access to the expertise of Penny, our resident gardener, via her blog (http://blog.riverford.co.uk), so you can give your seedlings even more of a head start. As the boxes are delivered during the Easter holidays, they come in handy for keeping energetic children entertained too.

Guy Watson