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Food bags make growers’ scheme a growing’ business

PUBLISHED: 21:13 14 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:42 05 October 2010

A SMALL organic produce business in East London is beating the recession by marketing food bags’ cheaply to its member’ customers—who often volunteer to help it tick along. Now the Organiclea Community Growers’ vegetable scheme near the River Lea, celebrating its first birthday this month, is aiming for a target of selling 100 bags a week

A SMALL organic produce business in East London is beating the recession by marketing food bags’ cheaply to its member’ customers—who often volunteer to help it tick along.

Now the Organiclea Community Growers’ vegetable scheme near the River Lea, celebrating its first birthday this month, is aiming for a target of selling 100 bags a week.

The co-operative, with its outlet at Walthamstow’s Hornbeam centre in Hoe Street, has become popular on the ethos of very local’ produce as well as organic foods.

Fruit and veg arrive from gardens and allotments in the Waltham Forest area every Wednesday morning.

Surplus potatoes, extra chard, apples or plums from a garden tree in Leyton are sorted and put with the regular delivery from small organic farmers in Norfolk and Cambridge.

CREDIT CRUNCH

“Our growth has been less affected by the credit crunch than some other high street businesses,” said Organiclea member Clare Joy.

“We wonder if this is because of the different reasons we are here—our members are not simply consumers’. This shields us from the rollercoaster of market forces.”

Workers and volunteers pack the bags, and prepare bulk orders to be delivered by bike and trailer.

The produce is split between the bags and is ready to be picked up by 4pm.

Box scheme members then arrive for their fresh, local bag of organic supplies.

The box’ scheme is set to get even more local.’

GROWING BUSINESS

By next year it is hoped that up to 30 per cent of the bags will be grown no further away than Chingford, just four miles up the road, from Organiclea’s new growing site’ and nursery.

Box Scheme coordinator Rebecca Tully explained: “Our aim is to make this a sustainable business, otherwise it couldn’t continue.

“But we’re trying to do this creatively. Volunteers help out on flexible basis, learning more about food production and perhaps for work experience, and this keeps the project ticking along in a more stable way.”

She added: “The benefits from this community involvement are that one more shop-front stays filled, people understand their area and feel safer, and people’s money stays in the community.”

But they admit Organiclea can only continue if people use it. So this modest co-operative is ambitiously aiming to sell 100 bags a week by its second birthday.

They can be reached by email here or by phone on: 07588-422263.


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