OTB is excited to welcome Local Greens to the OTB membership. The organisation is a not-for-profit, organic veg bag scheme operating out of the railway arches in Herne Hill, South East London. With a commitment to their local community, profits go to support local community projects or are measurably reinvested in the local economy.
The organisation was co-founded by two local mums who wanted to provide their families and neighbourhood with organic and biodynamic seasonal vegetables, grown as near as possible to South East London, ensuring maximum freshness and minimum food miles. The team has changed and grown over the 10 years since it was established, and original founder, Jean Bergin, remains at the helm. Local Greens has adapted to meet the needs of the local community and remain committed to ethical practices, such as paying their employees and suppliers a living wage.
The inspiration for the initiative came from Growing Communities, an ethical organic veg box scheme and garden in Stoke Newington, North London, which was established over 20 years ago. The Growing Communities model also generated an initiative called Better Food Traders – an organisation for ethical, sustainable food suppliers in London, with the ethos that a sustainable and resilient food system can be built on four principles:
Ecological food and farming
Changing the big picture
Organic and sustainable producers The produce that Local Greens supplies comes from small-scale farmers who are either certified organic or spray-free. The team has close working relationships with the farms, and know most of the farmers by name.
By working together with small-scale farmers, Local Greens develops lasting relationships and working partnerships that benefit everyone on the food chain. The work of these small-scale farms tends to be more labour intensive (than conventional growing) and provides employment for people in rural areas, as well as contributes directly to the economic and social well being of those communities
The farmers and growers who supply produce to Local Greens include:
Supporting low-income families Local Greens is committed to supporting initiatives for low-income families. In addition to supplying fresh fruit and veg directly to the local food bank, customers are encouraged to donate the value of their veg bags to the Brixton & Norwood Foodbank, instead of cancelling an order over holiday periods. This enables families on low incomes to access fresh, organic fruit and veg.
Healthy Living Platform in Loughborough Junction is another key Local Greens partner. This organisation provides cooking lessons and cooked meals for vulnerable people in the local area. All the veg that doesn’t make the grade, for instance a potato with a spade mark in it or a broken carrot, goes to them to create nutritious, healthy meals at no cost for recipients.
Since 2018, Local Greens has taken great steps to reduce single-use plastic packaging in their workflow. Veg and fruit are delivered in 100% reusable bags, which are returned and exchanged by customers each week, and they’ve worked with their farms and suppliers to transition to plastic free or compostable packaging. It’s a balance between preserving the quality and freshness of veg, and also curtailing environmental impact by reducing plastic use. They are also working with other London veg box schemes to find fully compostable packaging solutions. For a small organisation, the transition takes time and the team are 100% committed to making this change.
You can find out more about Local Greens and order if you are local to SE London here.