One of the great things about having a variety of different box types is it gives us the opportunity to order and take produce from growers who are growing great things but might not have the capacity to supply enough of an item for all 250 customers to get that item in a given week. Our organic boxes allow us to support the work of medium-scale mixed-crop farmers like Golden Valley Farm (who we welcome back this week after a winter break overseas), Newry Farm and the not-for-profit Bream Creek Community Market Garden, who grow without chemical inputs but for whom organic certification would be onerous and possibly damaging, in terms of both the required certification processes and the financial outlay (which includes paying out a percentage of annual turnover to the certification body along with other fees – this, along with increased risks of crop-failure and increased labour hours account for the higher prices of certified organic produce).
Buying from home-growers is also something we value. There’s usually a bit of a story to these arrangements, as home-growers generally don’t advertise their presence… The lovely kale bunches in this week’s organic boxes come from Vanessa, who attended when Mrs BB hosted a gardening group a few weekends ago, and was excited to be able to offload their surplus of kale in exchange for a variety of BB preserves. The grapefruit in the $20 boxes are from Mrs BB’s mum’s friend, which were swapped for a box of fresh veg. The delicious sugar snap peas in the $55 organic boxes this week were a spot of luck – we were short on an item as York Town Organics weren’t able to do the carrots that we’d hoped for, but as luck would have it Mr BB’s cellist friend Dale (who has a remarkable garden at her Taroona house) was inundated with produce from the garden due to half her family being away, and wondered if we could use any. The ice-cream container’s worth of sugar snap peas was a perfect fit – and we’ll probably have some other goodies from Dale next week too!
At the other end of the spectrum, of course, we have huge local growers like Houston’s Farm, Tassie Pride, Hills Hydroponics and Harvest Moon, without whom Tasmania would need to import most of the veg we eat. It’s a fascinating balancing act, and it’s inspiring to see the ways all these growers solve problems and constantly adjust and improve what they do, using the tools and resources available to them. Vive la difference!