Abby Jones meets Local Greens – a success story based on partnerships and sustainability
A decade ago, two forward-thinking mums, Jean Bergin and Therese Stowell, decided to start Local Greens.
They wanted to provide local people with organic or biodynamic seasonal veg grown as near as possible to ensure maximum freshness and minimum food miles.
Therese met Maria Devereaux, a marketing professional from East Dulwich, at a local food growing event and she was asked to look after Local Greens’ communications and PR.
Jane Penston and Natasha Soares also joined to look take on operations and community growing.
Together they researched, visited and set up working partnerships with farmers. These small, sustainable growers supply most of the veg for Local Greens’ bags.
Personnel have changed over the years. Some have moved on and others have an advisory role on the board.
Local Greens currently has five part-time staff and a pool of volunteers. They all remain passionate about healthy eating and sustainability.
Their seasonal and organic veg bags go to South London customers weekly.
There is a Local Greens a vegetable collection point at Blue Star House that serves central Brixton, there were also points at The Hootananny and The Queen’s Head, before Covid shut-downs and complications.
They have three points in Herne Hill and 28 points in total across Lambeth and Southwark.
Local Greens are now celebrating 10 years of veg bags and so much more as well as looking to the future.
Jean Bergin is still involved – as managing director. She has :“years of conservation volunteering, an interest in the environment and solid finance and management experience to the not-for-profit sector”.
Before Local Greens, she worked in accountancy, in the City in commodities and commercial banking, and then in film and television.
“As a finance professional, I am passionate about running ‘green not for profit’ businesses as commercial enterprises,” Jean says.
Since that first veg delivery in 2011, a lot has changed, but the scheme has maintained its commitment to local farms, local food and to local people.
Based in the arches of Herne Hill, Local Greens have nested themselves in the South London community, working with other local initiatives and businesses.
Their blog proudly celebrates all the good foodie things happening in the area, but also has some interesting reads on the bigger picture of food production and sustainability.
With climate change, Brexit and the pandemic currently sharing the majority of our news headlines, securing sustainable supply chains close to home is as important now as ever.
Local Greens work directly with their farmers, adhering to fair wage, fair trade and organic principles.
This means a secure supply of seasonal veg all year around, which is sustainable for both the planet and the people who grow it.
Congratulations to their team on a happy decade, here’s to many more years of sustainable and fair food.
This is a success story of thriving from and within the South London community, proving that small initiatives can grow to become a strong voice for the power of local impact.
Head to the Local Greens website to sign up for a weekly veg bag, search for recipes or find out more about the scheme.