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We’re very proud to announce that our new non-profit wholesale business, the Better Food Shed, has launched this week. In a small and very practical way this represents a pivotal move forward for the sustainable food system in London.
The team is led by Danny Fisher (right), formerly at Organiclea. He was in charge of ordering for their veg scheme for many years and already has a great relationship with most of the farmers supplying the Shed. DeeDee (not in pic) is assistant manager. The team also consists of Paul (left), who was one of our Grown in Dagenham trainees, with occasional help from freelancer Nicole (centre) who's worked in many roles at GC over the years.
We’ve been developing this project for a while as we wanted a new kind of wholesale business to support the growth of small-scale local food systems. There has been growing demand for locally sourced, organic box schemes in London over the past 20 years and there are now 14+ community-led, organic schemes operating within the M25.
Supply to these schemes predominantly comes from small farms within 100 miles of London, such as Sarah Green Organics and Ripple Farm. Delivering direct requires scale and a minimum order size so this option is not viable for smaller box schemes with small orders or for smaller producers who have less to sell.
The Shed solves this problem by reducing the cost and carbon of the distribution conundrum, providing a hub in Barking where the farmers deliver all their London orders. And for the veg schemes, it helps us all compete with larger businesses by pooling our orders, thus giving us greater buying power.
As a not-for-profit organisation, the Better Food Shed is committed to putting farmers and growers ahead of profit. It's also committed to supporting small businesses run in an ecologically sound way and to help build a more sustainable food system. It's being incubated in the initial stages by Growing Communities before aiming to become its own separate organisation later in 2019.
Update: 28 March 2019. For now, the Shed is only able to supply veg schemes that are members of the Better Food Traders network and has no immediate plans to expand beyond that into supplying restaurants or shops. We'll let you know if that changes.