Eating locally and seasonally is good for your health and the environment, and one of the best ways to do this is by ordering veg boxes.
Delivered straight to your door, fruit and vegetable boxes can be ordered in a range of sizes and varieties, making them suitable for any size household.
Leeks being harvested on an organic farm Getty
Our guide to veg boxes includes what they are, the benefits of ordering veg boxes and the best veg box schemes near you.
What is a veg box scheme?
A veg box, or vegetable box, is a scheme that delivers local, seasonal, fresh and organic (usually) fruit and vegetables to your doorstep or a local collection point. Usually the schemes involve a weekly order, but it is also possible to do one-off orders. A variety of box sizes and themes can be chosen, meaning you can tailor your order to the number and preferences of people in your household.
What are the environmental benefits of veg boxes?
There are many environmental benefits of veg boxes. The farms that deliver veg boxes are usually organic, meaning the release of harmful pesticides, herbicides and insecticides into the surrounding countryside is reduced.
The fruit and vegetables are seasonal and local. Eating seasonal food from nearby farms reduces the reliance on imported produce – the transportation of imports releases more carbon into the atmosphere than locally sourced food.
Consuming food from local farms reduces your carbon footprint Getty
The fruit and vegetables are delivered loose in a cardboard box, using far less packaging compared to a supermarket, particularly plastics. The empty boxes are often picked up by the farm the following week as they deliver your next order.
Quality control in supermarkets often means that a large percentage of picked crops are thrown away because of their shape and superficial blemishes. Veg boxes don’t discriminate against wonky produce, meaning far less food waste.
The cumulative travel time from farm to plate is less. One driver delivering dozens of boxes covers less overall distance than dozens of drivers journeying to supermarkets. Veg boxes are often delivered at times of low congestion (typically the morning), meaning less stopping and starting, again reducing the amount of traffic pollution release into the atmosphere.
What are the health benefits of veg boxes?
Most veg boxes come from organic farms, where the fruit and vegetables are grown without chemicals.
Eating seasonal, local food means your fruit and vegetables are fresh, this gives them more flavour and a higher level of nutrients and vitamins than produce that has travelled a long distance.
The nutrient content of locally grown, organic fruit and vegetables in higher than imported produce Getty
By ordering veg boxes you are encourage to accept all foods, including ingredients that you wouldn’t usually buy in the supermarket. As a result, you are more like to try new recipes and broaden your cooking horizon.
From a more holistic point of view, eating with the seasons allows us to stay in touch with the cycles of nature, increasing our connection to the land.
Best veg box schemes
Based at Wash Farm in Buckfastleigh, Devon, Riverford Organic is a cooperative of farms that delivers fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, wine and fruit across the country. The man behind the scheme, Guy Watson, was voted one of our top 20 British food heroes a few years back. Keep an eye on the website as box contents change weekly.
Residents in south-east Cornwall have been enjoying the locally grown organic fruit and veg from Keveral Farm since 1997. The farm itself has been organic since 1973 – almost 50 years of history and experience makes this a perfect starting point for newcomers to veg boxes.
Growers at this 20-year-old farm boast not just organic produce but biodynamic produce, which means, among other things, that the entire farm relies on home-produced compost, manure and animal feeds, for even more nutritious fruit and veg. Delivering to customers in Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian, East Coast Organics also supply herbs, bread, cheese and eggs.
Through helping to plan crops and talk prices with growers, this company speaks to farmers in its collective on a daily basis, and covers the West Country right though to the North Midlands. Its recession-busting value organic box of is perfect for both the health and wealth conscious.
Tending to England’s northern counties, including Northumberland, Yorkshire and Derbyshire, this friendly, green-thinking farm has been going for over 100 years, and became fully certified as an organic farm in 1999. Start off with a weekly Farm Box (£12.50) and if you like what your getting you can always upgrade to a Large Vegetable Box (£24.85).
One of the oldest Organic businesses in the UK, Sunnyfields delivers fruit and veg boxes, specialist herbs, dairy and also a great selection of meat and poultry. It is green thinking and flexible to suit individual customers, aiming to provide high quality produce throughout the year.