Boxing clever and staying local
PUBLISHED: 19:30 22 July 2016
Veg box delivery schemes have existed for years, and it is an excellent option for busy people who get fresh, seasonal veg and fruit delivered straight to their front door. If you like farmers’ markets and the idea of growing your own, but just don’t have the time or space, a veg box is a great idea. You support local independent businesses, get fresh food with low food miles, and at prices that match or beat supermarkets.
I met Juliet Foxwell on a bike ride a few weeks ago, and she told me about her new St Albans-based company, Box Local. What impressed me is that Juliet sources all her produce and meat locally, which the larger box companies just cannot do. Last week we received our first order, and I was very impressed.
Our small box contained bags of rocket and spinach, organic cherry tomatoes, radishes, cucumber, bunched carrots, pepper, potatoes, broad beans, strawberries, rhubarb and a bunch of parsley, which is good value for £12.
We also tried a small meat selection of chicken breasts, pork tenderloin and meatballs, which came with handy notes on how to cook them. I was pleased to see that the meat is free-range and grass-fed, which helps the flavour and means better welfare for the animals.
Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are from Canatella & Colletti who are based in Smallford, St Albans, and most of the other veg is from The Veg Men of Bromham in Bedfordshire who grew the delicious broad beans in my box. Watercress is from famous Whitwell Watercress, and is still grown and picked by Thelma, who is in her 80s! Eggs are from Oaklands college, when they have enough, and if not from a farm near Royston. Brookfield Farm in Aston, Hertfordshire, run by mother and daughter team Eileen and Barbara supply the meats.
Cheeses come from Wobbly Bottom near Hitchin; Wodehill in Beds (who took over the Childwickbury goats); and Bookham & Harrison in East Sussex who make a good Parmesan cheese alternative. It’s impressive sourcing.
Boxes are delivered every Thursday. You choose what size you want, and add to it each week if you like. You can cancel if you are going on holiday. If you don’t like something in particular, you can tell Juliet and she will swap it for something else.
There are some interesting extras, such as the “breakfast box” which includes bacon, eggs, tomatoes and sausages (you can choose gluten-free) and mushrooms. The BBQ box contains sausages, chicken drumsticks and burgers, and is very popular at the moment.
Juliet can also supply packs to make dinner for two or more; you get everything you need to make the recipe of the week.
This week was Moroccan lamb chops with fruity couscous or mushroom stroganoff. It sounds like a good way to not have to think about what to cook on a Thursday night. A veggie meal for two is around £6 which is cheaper than a ready meal.
Price is a factor in making the decision to shop this way. Juliet is very aware of this and told me that her prices match Sainsburys and are seven per cent cheaper than Waitrose; and delivery is included in the price.
As Juliet told me: “I think we would all like to support local businesses if we could, but it has to fit in with our lifestyle, and more importantly our budget.”
Boxes can be left outside your home if you are out at work; everything is chilled and insulated in wool packaging (the meat we ordered was cold even a few hours later). You leave your box out for the following week for Juliet to re-use it.
Box Local deliver to St Albans and parts of Hemel at the moment, but if you live elsewhere in our readership, why not get in contact so Juliet knows your interest for the future?
Use code BOX10 for 10 per cent off your first box. See the website at boxlocalfood.co.uk or call Juliet on 01727 854808.