Having recently started ordering a mini fruit and vegetable box from Riverford, I have been so excited and impressed on receiving the boxes I had to share it with you!
About Riverford (below text courtesy of Wikipedia)
Riverford is an organic farm and dairy based in Buckfastleigh in Devon, England, but with sister farms in four locations around the country.
Riverford farm was taken over by the Watson family in the 1950s and followed the normal history for UK farms until the mid 1980’s, when Guy Watson decided to convert to organic farming. By the late 1980s this had been achieved.Guy aimed to find an effective way of distributing his produce. His idea was the weekly veg box scheme, which is delivered direct to customers’ doors with locally grown produce.
Having five farms around the country permits economies of scale that approach those of supermarkets, whilst reducing the delivery time from field to kitchen and ensuring fresh food.Riverford also choose varieties for flavour rather than appearance and deliver earthy vegetables which again improves storage and taste. Another benefit of the lack of choice is that customers work with the rhythm of the seasons in their cooking and discover new vegetables that they have never tried before.
Starting from a weekly delivery of around 30 boxes to family and friends, by early 2010 Riverford were delivering to around 45,500 boxes per week and sending its own meat and dairy products as well as veg and fruit to 60,000 households nationwide. To achieve this they have formed a mutual cooperative of British farmers – not all in Devon. The weekly boxes come with a newsletter explaining both the content of the box and giving farm news from Riverford. The result is a large, yet personal method of shopping with the bulk of customers having been found by word of mouth, and small-scale, local advertising.
Ordering from Riverford
I set up our Riverford order online. You can choose to have a variety of different boxes delivered such as Small Vegetable Box, Mini Fruit and Vegetable box, Salad boxes etc. along with other organic items such as wine, meat, bread and juices. You can also order various recipe books and other ‘Kitchen Kit’ items. Once you have chosen which box you would like, you simply add it to your basket and you then get the option of creating an account. Our local distributors are based in Cornworthy, Totnes (Martin and Jane Emmett) but there are distributors throughout the UK. The website is very user friendly and you can set up how often you would like to receive your box. You can even add or amend your order up until 10pm 2 days before your delivery is due. Once you have set up your ‘regular order’ you can amend, add and remove items as necessary. You can choose to pay online by setting up a WorldPay account (my favoured choice) or you can pay weekly at the door by cash or cheque. Paying by WorldPay does incur a small charge depending on the size of your order – in our case it is 20p per transaction based on the cost of a Mini Fruit and Vegetable Box which is £11.85. The box is then delivered on the date shown – if you are not in at the time of delivery, the box is usually left outside and is covered to protect the items inside. I would suggest if you have any specific requirements about delivery instructions, you contact your local distributor.
About our Mini Fruit and Veg box
This week in our vegetable box we received the following items:
- bunched carrots UK/FR
- wet garlic UK
- swiss chard UK
- red pepper ES
- courgettes ES/FR
- nectarines ES
- cherries FR (these were substituted with pears – substitutions occur when Riverford quality control team are not happy with the standard of the crop)
Along with the box you also get a a news letter about the weekly Riverford crops and recipe leaflet, this weeks recipes:
- Fennel and Mushroom Salad with Parmesan Crisps
- Broad Beans, Mint and Pecorino
- Thai-Style Marinated Cucumber Salad
- Strawberry Scone Cake
- Cajun Spiced Chicken with Mashed Butternut Squash
All the items were very fresh, if a little muddy, but that is all part of the wholesomeness of this organic food; pulled straight from the ground and into your veg box. You need to wash or bag some of them items before putting them in the fridge. With regards to the taste, you can definitely taste the difference in the carrots – they have a lovely flavour and tomatoes too just taste ‘different’ to supermarket bought ones – the colour of the flesh inside is also more vibrant. What I love about the boxes is when you are comparing the price with supermarket organic food it is certainly competitive and you are getting it delivered straight to your door. The children get excited when the box is delivered and it’s great that they are engaged with looking through it with us each week to discover an as yet un-tasted fruit/veg (such as fennel and artichokes which I have never thought to buy).
If you haven’t ordered from Riverford before I would definitely recommend giving it a go. It really does encourage you to take more interest in your food, and also to eat more healthily generally by being part of your 5-a-day and by following the healthy, nutritional recipes included each week. Any vegetable items unused after 5 or 6 days can be cooked up to make a lovely vegetable soup, which you can then freeze in portions and defrost for a quick healthy lunch! (ideal for us work at home Mum’s).