Organic Box Schemes

A box scheme is a delivery of a box of organic vegetables and fruit, organised by either a farm or a specialist company, and either delivered direct to the householder or to a group of friends and neighbours.

It is a very effect way of making sure a family or single householder gets fresh organic and seasonally grown produce each week. It can be more convenient than shopping, and allows the buyer to experience an ever-changing variety of high quality produce, direct from the producer, not through the middlemen. A big bonus is that the buyer becomes aware of the seasonality of different fruit and vegetables – even though most suppliers will import some fruit, such as oranges and bananas, most of the vegetables supplied is from the UK, grown in its season.

What’s in an Organic Box?

Someone choosing a regular delivery of an organic box generally can choose from a range of different boxes from each supplier. What is often standard is a medium size box of vegetables and some fruit, or a family size box, or just fruit or vegetables. Most suppliers allow buyers to list some of their preferred vegetables, i.e yes to tomatoes every week, and request not to receive others, i.e no to green cabbages every week.

Other options for buyers might include a regular box of fruit for juicing or a box of vegetables that is easy to mash and serve to babies. As an example of seasonal vegetables and fruit offered, a major UK supplier of such boxes lists the following as available in its mixed box (in November 07):

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots (bunch)
  • Celeriac
  • Clementine’s
  • Cosmos potatoes
  • Courgettes
  • Bananas (fair-trade)
  • Green Lettuce
  • Jonagold variety Apples
  • Oranges
  • Parsnips
  • Spring Greens
  • Sweet potato
  • White onions

This box sells for less than 15 pounds, including delivery.

Most suppliers also offer a range of other organic produce, such as meat, fish, bread, cakes, wine, beer, and sundry groceries from UK producers. Suppliers of organic boxes are proud of their knowledge of the organic market in the UK, and often send out a printed newsletter or email containing interesting facts about the produce they sell, and most importantly, recipes to use the produce in.

Finding a Box Scheme in the Local Area

The easiest way to find a box scheme in a local area is to ask friends and family if anyone knows of such an option. The local health food store, or most shops selling organic food, will also be able to help. If these options draw a blank, look in organic lifestyle magazines, or contact the Soil Association (SA) in Bristol. The SA co-ordinates many box schemes across the UK in an effort to promote organic food and farming. Through its website contact details can be found of both small-scale regional box schemes, in many cases operated by small co-operatives of organic farmers, and bigger Nationwide specialist suppliers.

If there isn’t a scheme in the area, why not start one? Gather a group of friends who wish to eat good quality organic food, and contact a local supplier or organic farmer. Many suppliers are happy to provide produce in bulk to one address, from where those involved can distribute amongst themselves. Suppliers may well offer discounts for bulk orders.