Helping you to get the most out of our region

Food & drink: all of your ‘5 a day’

22nd September 2020

Inspired by the increased demand for fruit-and-vegetable boxes during lockdown, Debs Pennell takes a look at a number of these excellent schemes run by farms and farm shops in our local region

It is now nearly 18 years since the government launched their ‘5 a day’ campaign, on 23 March 2003. This initiative was introduced to encourage people to increase their daily consumption of fruit and vegetables, to at least five portions per day, with a portion of fruit or vegetables being 80 grammes.

At the time, the Labour government at the time was clearly looking at the health benefits that vegetables, fruit and salad provide in our diet, and the future effect that this could have on our NHS. It was medically proven that eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day could reduce your risk of cardiac diseases, cancers and diabetes. In more recent months, of course, medical advisors have stressed how important eating a healthy diet is during the Covid-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that: ‘what we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections.’ 

So how do you buy your fresh fruit and vegetables? Do you rely on the local markets, or have you thought about, or signed up to, one of our fantastic local vegetable box schemes?

Veggie box schemes have undoubtedly become more popular, and many local farm shops now have a click-and-collect facility, and a wider selection of fruit and vegetables. It would appear that shopping local has taken an upwards spiral over the last few months, with people analysing the way they shop, and realising the many benefits of buying local.

Farndon Fields Farm Shop

Situated just southwest of Market Harborough, award-winning Farndon Fields Farm Shop diversified into supplying fruit-and-vegetable boxes as a direct result of Covid-19. They were keen to meet a demand for a regular delivery of fresh produce to help those shielding or unable to leave their homes. As the scheme has proved so successful, they plan to continue the service for the foreseeable future.

Ordering pre-made fruit-and-vegetable boxes is simple: a telephone call to their dedicated order line means a truly personal service, with staff taking your order, answering any queries, taking delivery details, adding extra order items and collecting payment. The telephone order line is open Monday to Friday 9am–5pm on 01858 464838.

Delivery areas are far reaching, with set days for specific areas such as Cottesbrooke, Kettering, Medbourne, Corby and many of the surrounding villages. 

Farndon Fields Farm Shop

An alternative to delivery is their Click and Collect service – orders are placed and then collected from a designated area of the farm shop car park, at an agreed time.

Farndon Fields grow a significant amount of the fruit and vegetables that make up their boxes, offering seasonal changes and a good variety of produce. All boxes come in one size for £10. Your fruit and vegetables arrive in made-up cardboard boxes, and packaging is kept to a minimum.

Farndon Fields Farm, Farndon Road, Market Harborough LE16 9NP

farndonfields.co.uk

New Lodge Farm

Located in Bulwick, New Lodge Farm Shop is a great example of a business that has rallied to meet the different demands of the local community and created a safe environment for people to shop in times of uncertainty. The Farm Shop has always been a vibrant destination for locals, their camp-site guests, and those travelling from further afield.

Owner, Sarah Singlehurst says, ‘we haven’t needed to expand our fruit-and-vegetable selection over the last few months, just increase our quantity of stock, but we have become more creative in our positioning of the fruit-and-vegetable area in light of Covid-19. We always have a large selection of local produce and we have also added extra lines, such as bread flour, yeast and baking products, to meet demand.’

New Lodge Farm Shop

Initially, after lockdown eased, produce was sold from an open-sided articulated truck in the car-park area, which offered people more space to browse, without feeling under pressure to make their choice. A newly constructed wooden barn now houses their excellent supply of fruit and vegetables, with plenty of space for a one-way system throughout the shop, and all Covid-19 regulations in place. Local producer, Richard Goodger is in charge of the fruit-and-vegetable area – he grows much of the produce himself and sources additional products locally, where possible. Produce boxes come in two sizes at £15 or £25 and they can be pre-ordered through the New Lodge Farm website, on email at shop@newlodgefarm.com, or by telephone on 01780 450493.

Laxton Road, Bulwick, Rockingham Forest, Corby, Northants NN17 3DU

newlodgefarm.com

Riverford

Riverford Organic Farmers have seen a huge increase in demand for their countrywide home-delivery service during lockdown, rising from around 50,000 to 80,000 deliveries each week. With this increased demand Riverford initially had to streamline their range, and focus continues to be on their core fruit-and-vegetable boxes, with the addition of ‘seasonal stars’, regular fruit, veg and salad favourites, plus staples such as milk, eggs and bread, and meat and fish, to top up your delivery. Meat boxes and recipe boxes of various sizes are also available.

Riverford said, ‘We have noticed some major changes in how people are eating and cooking in the home during this ongoing crisis, with many people now cooking from scratch. This is a big sustainable lifestyle shift for many, as the weekly contents of our boxes are based on seasonal availability rather than limitless choice. In response, we are offering lots of veg help, recipes and “Veg Hacks” videos to help customers “live life on the veg.” Our Facebook group, Riverford Hive, has also been a great way for people to share and connect with each other.’

Riverford continues to be a reliable source of seasonal organic vegetables and fruit, produced on their farms such as Sacrewell, close to Peterborough, or bought in from growers they know and trust.

Boxes start from around £15 and come in a small, medium or large size. Register and order at:

riverford.co.uk

Gates Farm Shop

Adjacent to the large garden centre on the Somerby Road in Rutland, Gates Farm Shop opened in August 2019. It has since built a reputation for quality fruit and vegetables – and for good reason. The team of fresh produce buyers source locally where possible, and they have a real passion for what they do. Packaging is kept to a minimum, with as much loose produce as possible. Paper bags, rather than plastic, are provided. 

Marketing Manager Ali Bailey says, ‘our customers tell us that it is now more important than ever to know where their food comes from. They are prioritising quality over convenience, though still want great value for money, as purse strings are tighter than ever. Having had more time on their hands, many of our customers have been looking into ethical alternatives to the huge supermarket chains and they are now using the smaller local businesses to supply their weekly shopping. Gates Farm Shop produce boxes are fresh, locally sourced and offer great value for money, with minimal packaging and contents subject to seasonal change.’

Produce at Gates Farm Shop

Fruit-and-vegetable boxes reflect what is available seasonally and are put together by the fresh produce team. Extra items can be added to meet customer requirements. Look out for offers such as celebratory afternoon tea boxes, Sunday roast boxes and full recipe boxes, including all the ingredients you will need to produce a delicious meal.

Orders to be placed on 01664 454309. Local delivery is available, and a designated collection point operates in the car park.

Gates Garden Centre, Somerby Road, Cold Overton, Nr Oakham, Rutland LE15 7QB 

gatesfarmshop.co.uk