Sourcing sustainably

Background to our policy

We aim to maximise our impact by applying the Growing Communities Key Principles to the produce we grow, buy and sell through our scheme.

  • We are mission driven - trading for social purpose, not just to maximise profit
  • We are committed to transparency, trust and cooperation throughout the food supply chain
  • We source food sustainably, using the food zones as a framework
  • We trade fairly
  • We champion ecological food and farming
  • We promote a diet that is good for people and planet
  • We operate in a low-carbon way
  • We build a strong community in support of this work
  • We strive to change the wider food system

In practice, balancing all the different principles is tricky and involves weighing up a number of different considerations reflected in the veg scheme buying policy. Sadly, we have not yet discovered a magic formula which tells us exactly how to do this! We rely on common sense, integrity and feedback from the community to enable us to balance these principles while continuing to live in the real world... 

The policy is regularly reviewed and continues to evolve to reflect and positively influence the external context in which we work.

 

The policy itself

The key principles are reflected in our current buying policy as follows:

  • Only certified organic produce
  • No air-freighted or hothouse produce

After that we operate a hierarchy of purchasing:

  • Obtain produce from our own Hackney growing sites when available and suitable for the bags.
  • Buy direct from local and regional farmers for produce that can be grown in the UK.
  • Buy from our wholesalers for produce that can be grown in the UK.
  • Buy from Europe for produce which could be grown in the UK as staple or main crops but which are in short supply – this is particularly relevant during the ‘Hungry Gap’ eg onions, apples, pears.
  • At certain times of the year buy produce from Europe that is not grown as a main crop in the UK or cannot be grown in the UK at all, this is sourced from as close to the UK as possible eg: oranges, kiwis, avocados.
  • Buy no produce from outside Europe except bananas – we consider these to be a staple item that is extremely difficult to source within Europe. We therefore buy these from outside Europe from a certified Organic and Fairtrade source who transport the produce by ship. 

 

Urban Farm Shop

The Urban Farm Shop (a small stall which runs while members of the veg scheme are picking up their fruit and veg at the Old Fire Station)  stocks the following categories of produce:

  • Produce from our own sites in Hackney and Dagenham.
  • Bread from the E5 Bakehouse in Hackney.
  • Eggs from a direct supplier.
  • UK seasonals which are high cost and not appropriate for the bags (eg strawberries, asparagus).
  • Extra staples (eg: potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges).
  • European seasonal fruits which are high cost and not appropriate for the bags (eg Muscat grapes, avocados, mangos).

March 2017