Jean 2014

That's A Wrap

We're sweeping up the confetti and taking down the balloons from our birthday party. Jean, our Managing Director, shares her final thoughts on what it means to lead Local Greens and what you can do to shape the next 10 years.

As part of my reminiscing about the last 10 years, I’ve been trying to remember stand out events that were landmarks in our development or celebrated what makes us different. It always comes back to people.

Over 10 years, all of these people joined us, did their bit and moved on or are still with us. Each left or continues to make their mark: Ruth, Blanche, Therese, Catherine, Jill, Peter K, Maria, Harriet, Jane, Peter M, Claudia, Rachel, Justine, Nick, Ben, Jimmy, Grian, Zara, Ruby, Natasha, Caroline, Shirin, Joe, Angus, Jocelyn, Naz, Mar, George, Jake, Laurie, Jack, Richard, Mikey, Nicola, Antoinette, Alexandra and Susan. There were also lots of volunteers helping with packing and events.

Whilst checking that I hadn’t missed anyone, I came across a document written late 2010 detailing Local Greens’ mission. It was:

  • To supply locally produced, organically grown vegetables to households in the Herne Hill, East Dulwich and Dulwich area
  • To pay a fair price to the producers of the vegetables, and develop a relationship that satisfies the aims the growers and Local Greens
  • To create a sustainable food system that ensures a low carbon food supply for a low carbon future
  • To raise awareness of food security, food miles and the carbon footprint of food for consumers and the wider public
  • To compete on price and quality with other retailers in the area
  • To be economically viable without funding for running costs

It’s good to see that none of this has changed, and we serve a larger area of South London. It’s also remarkable that our mission is more important than ever, as recent world events show. The most important part of that mission is to be part of a sustainable food movement that provides food security without contributing to climate change.

What does it mean to be a sustainable food business? We contribute to our local economy by providing a sustainable livelihood for our staff through paying the London Living Wage; we support and promote other like-minded businesses; we pay farmers a fair price for the produce we supply so that they can also have and provide sustainable livelihoods. It also means working to protect plant and animal diversity. What does that mean in the context of the bag of veg you collect on a Thursday? We source the produce from organic and agroecological farms that work with nature. No pesticides, herbicides or damaging chemicals are used in the production of the food.

We avoid damaging and wasting natural resources and avoid contributing to climate change. That’s a grand statement, but what does it mean? We are a zero waste business. We only order what is needed to meet the order from week to week. Surplus, wastage and damaged veg is used for staff lunch, donated to the local food bank or used to provide cooked meals for vulnerable people. Packaging and crates that can be re-used are returned to farmers. What can’t be used is recycled, mainly paper and cardboard. Then there is a very small quantity of landfill waste, generated as a result of hygiene and safety measures introduced to stop the spread of COVID. We also look at our operations at every stage of the business, question our environmental impact and change what we do to further reduce our carbon footprint. Finally, we provide social benefits, mainly good quality food, to you our customers and to vulnerable people in our community. We have also engaged with our community in the past by providing educational and volunteering opportunities. We will take this up again when COVID allows.

What are our plans for the next 10 years?

  • Maintain and grow our support for small, agroecological and organic farmers
  • Ensure Local Greens continues to be a financially viable not-for-profit business, making a difference in our community
  • Return to using electric vehicles (watch this space).
  • Offer staff more hours to meet the target of a minimum of 16 hours a week as set by the Living Wage Foundation
  • Provide training and internships for young people who may not have considered working in sustainable food
  • Listen to you, our customers, whose support is at the centre of all of this

What can you do?

  • Tell us what you want in a constructive way and on a regular basis
  • Visit us. Share your stories. Spread the word
  • Support other local, sustainable food businesses in your area; shop at the businesses that support us by being collection points
  • Enjoy your veg!