The path to vegetable enlightenment
Eighteen months ago in the run up to our 10th birthday the Fair Food leadership team sat at a large round table reflecting on how we were going to get through the next 10 years.
Our grizzled facilitator, Andrew, a successful businessman now “giving-back” to the community asks us to list the best things about Fair Food’s service.
We scribble away on post-it notes and pass them up to Andrew – a list forms;
– we are ethical
– we support farmers,
– jobs for people seeking asylum,
– friendly customer service
– website is easy to use
– next-day delivery
– lots of reusable packaging,
– convenient set veg boxes
Andrew growls, “Are they?”
“Are they convenient?” he barks again.
More silence. This is the equivalent of asking Birkenstock if sandals are any good?
Since our veggie co-op days Fair Food’s identity has been so intertwined with the veg box, it’s inconceivable to think of one without thinking of the other.
We concede to Andrew that the veg box can be a bit inflexible, there are reports of waste, but still most people buy one and overall people love them – someone has told us that opening a veg box is like Christmas.
Andrew snorts and says nothing.
We move on but a tiny crack in our collective consciousness has appeared.
Over the following year the crack widens – this once unaskable question nags away at us – are we selling something people don’t really want?
We are comforted by our hundreds of passionate veg box lovers who tell us they love the surprise of each week’s box, the challenge of cooking with the unknown and the lack of fuss not having to decide what to buy.
But there are others, hundreds of customers who write of their love for Fair Food and what it is doing but inexplicably drift away never to be heard from again.
A few months after Andrew’s session I write a newsletter sharing my own failed veg box experience – years of composting the limp beetroot and yellowing cabbage my family didn’t eat and feeling a kind of “veg box shame”.
In the following week numerous people approach or email me relieved they’re not alone at failing to measure up as a “veg box person”.
Since then we’ve quietly begun gently suggesting to new customers that the veg box isn’t for everyone and that picking their own produce is often the best way to go.
Still each week another group of people new to Fair Food enthusiastically buy their first veg box and fail to return.
I wonder whether we should be more up front going as far as a Patagonia-esque “Don’t Buy This Veg Box!” campaign.
Perhaps it’s too much, but after spending a decade spreading the veg box word, how do we let people know the veg box is but one path to online grocery enlightenment?
You can find the Pick your own veg section here, the Pick your own fruit section here and of course our Veg Boxes here.
Olives to Oil Harvest Festival
On the last Sunday of May 3000acres and CERES presents Olives to Oil Harvest Festival – a musical and educational neighbourhood harvest celebration and communal olive pressing.
Bring your olives to CERES on Sunday 30th of May for the big celebration and pressing (if you can’t make Sunday drop your olives at the CERES Visitor Centre between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday 29th)
A small olive press will be there for people to see oil flowing and get involved in the making.
The rest will go to Barfold Olives and be pressed together into a unique community-picked extra virgin oil (in 2019 almost three tons of olives were pressed).
Three weeks later on Sunday 20th June between 2pm – 4pm come back to CERES with your bottle(s) and collect your freshly pressed oil.
As a guide 10kg of olives makes about 1 litre of oil and remember pick your olives on the day or the day before pressing – the fresher the olives the better the oil.
See you and your olives there – find more details here.
Have a great week