Abby Jones discovers how a local green food initiative is coping with lockdown
Local Greens was set up in 2011 by a couple of eco-conscious Herne Hill mums, Jean and Theresa. They wanted to provide their neighbourhood with organic, fresh and seasonal fruit and veg, sourced as locally as possible.
The system is simple – sign up online, select your bag option, and then collect from one of their South East London collection points.
I wondered how things had changed for Local Greens during lockdown. So I had a chat with Alex from the team, who gave me the full lockdown-lowdown on all things local, and all things green.
The announcement of lockdown seems like yonks ago, but Alex reminds me of that time, when we were all in a bit of a panic, and food supply was certainly high on the list of concerns.
We all grabbed as many tinned goods as we could, but a big worry was would we be able to get fruit and vegetables in the weeks to come?
Local Greens had the answer, providing fresh fruit and veg for safe collection, without a queue. And so, the team had a sudden rise in sign-ups.
As a not-for-profit, they are run by a small team (mostly volunteers) so they had to think fast and make a couple of changes, but carried on, determined to keep providing a fresh stream of fruit and veg to existing and new customers.
Alex tells me that they have received some lovely messages of gratitude over the past months, all with sentiment that I definitely share, of the importance of still feeling part of your community, when you can easily feel so isolated.
They set up a Facebook page for people who are self-isolating or unwell to connect with others who could drop off their veg bag (another win for looking after your neighbour), and they have connected with Norwood & Brixton food bank, to donate food.
During lockdown, lots of us have learnt the benefit of “looking local”, discovering and supporting all the amazing stuff that’s going on in Brixton, despite the lockdown.
In doing so, we are supporting local businesses to come out on the other side, and connecting with good things that are happening in our postcodes.
I hope that we can all keep supporting ethically minded local initiatives post lockdown, because it brings us a little bit closer to the things we are buying, and closer to their source.
Local Greens have worked hard to build relationships with farmers, ensuring fair work and fair wages.
This means the farmer can invest in themselves, which means investing back into the UK. By supporting initiatives like this, we are then involved in a further community; an ecological and environmental circle that supports the growers, making sure they are part of an ecosystem that works for everyone.
Getting this veg bag every week has given me something I didn’t realise I had a lack of; a confidence in cooking new stuff.
I am embarrassed to say that I have never before cooked a beetroot from scratch, and could only identify a jerusalem artichoke as something from a Harry Potter film.
But over the last months I have been amazed by all the delicious and wonderful things that we grow here in the UK, and see why seasonal food that hasn’t travelled hundreds of miles, tastes so good – because it is fresh!
I have made some beautiful dishes from the goodies in my veg bag, and I am always excited to check out my rainbow surprise of delights, and crunch down on something in season.
So, if you’re looking for a weekly bag of goodness, check out the Local Greens website where you can find out more. You can find their price list and bag types there too. For some inseasonspiration, have a looksie at their very colourful instagram.
*Because a lot of the usual collection points are cafes or pubs, for the time being collection points are more limited, so that you can collect your veg bag from the team directly, in a safe manner.