My first box of fresh loveliness from Farm Direct

My first box of fresh produce from Farm Direct arrived yesterday which was hugely exciting.

Joining a ‘veg box’ scheme has been on my list of green things I really ought to do for a couple of years but when I checked it out it seemed extremely restrictive – having to commit to the same thing every week, prohibitively expensive, or limited in what they offer.

But at the Camden Green Fair a few weeks back I visited the Farm Direct stall and their set-up is completely different.

You don’t have to order the same thing each time, and you don’t even have to place an order each week – perfect for me as I’m away such a lot. Also, they sell so much more than fruit and veg – they have meat, fish, cheese, fruit juice, bread, flowers, jams and more, with different options each week depending what they’ve sourced.

The depot is close to me in Holloway so I can go and pick it up if I can’t be in for delivery on a Saturday or Sunday. And though delivery normally costs £3.95, you get it free on your first order, and if you have a neighbour who’s also interested, they’ll deliver to you both for free. Apparently there’s someone else in my block of flats who’s already using the service so Farm Direct’s going to put me in touch with them.

Farm Direct is also much clearer on exactly where all of their produce has been sourced from, right down to the name of the farmer, unlike veg box pioneers Able & Cole who aren’t able to give you specifics. I loved reading that my minced lamb came from Nicola Bulgin’s Beatbush Organic Farm in Methwold, Norfolk; my chicken from Gill Wing’s Organic Farm in Sussex; my natural yoghurt from Chris Timotheou’s Dairy in Chalfont St Peter; my splendid rye loaf made by Matt Jones’ Flour Power City Bakery in Surrey Quays, London; spinach from Martin Mackey Ripple Farm Organics in Canterbury, and so on.

Price comparison for Sainsbury's and Farm DirectI’ve already had one salad using my rocket, cucumber and carrots and it was deeee-licious. They even threw in a bunch of dahlias for free as I had a promo code from the Fair!

But however much I’ve been impressed by the service and the quality of the produce they offered, I simply couldn’t justify it if it costs a lot more than I budget for. But I’ve just priced up what I’d normally have spent at Sainsbury’s and it’s barely any different.

In fact, the lamb, chicken and rocket came in cheaper. The total cost for the basket at Sainsbury’s would have been £17.39 (see pricing to the right).

For infinitely better quality produce, all locally-sourced, I paid just £18.36 with Farm Direct (see pricing below). And I didn’t have to struggle home on the bus with all my shopping bags!

There are still a few staples which I’ll have to go to the supermarket for – Ryvita, Actimel, tinned stuff and so on. But I’m hoping I might be able to stock up on these once a month since they aren’t perishable. Farm Direct also seems very open to new suggestions so I might put in a request for cottage cheese in case that’s something they can work on…

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