We think loyalty is important in the food system. Buying from growers over the long-term, rather than swapping and changing to try and get the best prices, helps growers plan for future seasons, and grow produce with the confidence they’ve got a buyer. A grower who knows they can sell their produce can try new things, invest in new growing strategies, and can concentrate on doing what they do best, rather than spending their time trying to juggle market movements and fluctuations. A farmer who trusts the future can also do their best to ensure that their land is nurtured and looked after for future generations. As a fairly small player in the system, there’s only so much we can do, but we do our best to support and encourage and build relationships with our growers.
After picking up the “White Elephant” potatoes from John down Cygnet way this week – John and I packed the potatoes, which he also sells to the local Port Cygnet Diner for their delicious chips, in “Boris” the van, while John’s son Ben was prepping potatoes for seed in the nearby shed – I swung in to pick up the apples (all 185 2kg bags worth) from Mark & Christine Duggan at their Cradoc on-site packing shed. (Boris gets quite a workout dragging almost a tonne of produce back from the Huon once a fortnight!)
I stopped for a chat with Mark, and he told me a bit about how their orchard was struggling a while back, when he was selling the apples and pears they grow through the traditional channels, littered with middle-men and hagglers, but that since they started selling their fruit directly to local shops (you’ll find their fruit in IGA’s all the way up the East coast, a delivery run they do on a regular basis) and through markets business is in much better shape, and that the customers keep coming back for the quality of the product and the relationship with the grower.
We’re proud to have bought our apples and pears from Mark & Christine from the very beginnings of our vegie box business, and we’re even prouder that they’ve finally managed to achieve organic status on their fruit! Organic certification is both expensive and very challenging, and I’m sure that Mark’s impeccable record keeping has been a significant factor in managing the conversion in a relatively short time-frame. We hope you enjoy this week’s delicious Granny Smiths, the last for the season. Here’s what else is in the box: