Our Annual Report
2020 saw all the parts that make up Local Greens come together to make us a stronger, more resilient organisation and community. What we regarded as normal back in February 2020, was a Local Greens and probably a world to which we will never return. New phrases came into our vocabulary that describe our actions, how we interact with our community and our staff. This past year has given us all time to reflect on what is important to us, and how we treat our planet.
In January and February of 2020, operations were ticking along nicely and we were predicting steady growth in line with previous years. However, by the end of April, over 200 new customers had joined the scheme. At the peak of the first lockdown, we were packing around 900 bags of fruit and veg a week. Click here for a chart of that journey.
The effect of this sudden growth was to change how we worked and how we used our space. Within a week, we reorganised the arch and started a shift system to keep everyone safe. The weather was very kind to us; we had the gates open all the time and could spread out into the lane. It’s not so comfortable now with temperatures dropping below zero when we start work at 7:00 am.
This increase in demand had the expected positive affect on our turnover, which increased from £225k in 2019 to £362k in 2020. But the true benefit of this is where that money went. Of that £362k sales revenue:
- £160k went to farmers and £53k to wholesalers; that is a massive 59% of turnover
- £85k was paid to staff
- £45k on rent and other running costs
To put it another way, 68% of what you pay for your weekly bag is paid directly to the people who grow the veg, and to the people who pack and deliver it. That money is paid back into your local economy to support families and farms. Click here for a visualisation of the breakdown
Wages accounted for 24% of our turnover. Of our 11 part-time staff, 10 live in Lambeth or Southwark, therefore, approximately 90% of the £85k wages is reinvested in the local community. Nine of those 10 local staff walk or cycle to work, keeping our carbon footprint and environmental impact to a minimum. We pay the London Living Wage and everyone gets holiday and sick leave.
We can also dig a bit deeper into the veg spend. What do we mean by local? Of the £213k paid for produce:
- £135k was to farms in London’s “rural hinterland,” which is within 100 miles of London
- £62k to larger scale farms, which cover the rest of the UK
- £16k for EU produce, during the hungry gap months, through a wholesaler
Click here for a chart breaking down the origin of our produce.
By primarily using smaller scale farms that are within 100 miles of London, it shortens our supply chain, keeps our carbon footprint low and improves our food security.
Of the £135k paid directly to farmers £113k of this was paid to farms that are certified organic by the Soil Association. The other £22k was spent on produce that is spray-free or organic-in-conversion. Produce from larger scale farms and the EU is also 100% organic. All of these farms are paid a fair price to produce ecological food using methods that benefit our whole food system, such as crop rotation, soil management, weed suppression and pest control without harmful chemicals.
Our annual turnover illustrates in real money terms how Local Greens is contributing to and achieving its core values. We have basic principles that underpin the work that we do:
- Pay a fair price to the producers of the vegetables, and develop a relationship that satisfies the aims of the growers and Local Greens
- Create a sustainable food system that ensures a low carbon food supply for a low carbon future
- Raise awareness of food security, food miles and the carbon footprint of food for consumers and the wider public
- Compete on price and quality with other retailers in the area
- Be economically viable without funding for running costs
We have a commitment to transparency and sharing how our business operations as a non-profit organisation. All of our customers have a hand in supporting this work, and we are ever grateful for your decision to change your eating and shopping behaviours to join our system. With your help, we believe the longer-term, positive effects on our food system will be immeasurable.