A year of resilience, community and solidarity
Thanks to everyone for being part of the scheme for what has been the most extraordinary year for everyone.
It's hard to write a Christmas message without mentioning the other C word. I'm sure everyone is so tired of it by now, and looking forward to a time where we can enjoy the simple pleasures IRL...yes, In Real Life has now got an acronym. Sharing a meal with people outside of your household, hugging, singing, dancing with reckless abandon are just some of the things that will never be taken for granted again.
At Crop Drop we're so grateful for the surge in appreciation and demand for our services. Our veg bag sales increased by 30% within a week of lockdown 1, a similar pattern across the country, alongside a general surge in demand for organic and local food. Perhaps because the fragility of our food system became more apparent to more people. We didn't realise it would take a pandemic to cause this shift in consciousness, but we're not complaining! And we're so glad that so many people who joined us in the wake of lockdown have stuck with it. We hope you've enjoyed going with the seasonal changes and discovered a new veg-led approach to cooking.
Love your farmer
What this year has taught us is that our little, somewhat niche, veg scheme is not just creating environmental resilience. We've learnt that a more sustainable food system is also more able to withstand social and economic upheaval. I hope as a nation we've learned that key workers are key, and this applies to farming too. Short supply chains and strong relationships of trust with our farmers meant minimal disruption to supply when the whole country was panic-buying. When the summer brought a new probelm for farmers - a lack of seasonal migrant workers, mostly from Romania and Lithuania, thankfully the small farms we work closely with didn't have this problem. It's been devastating to hear of whole fields and orchards left full of unharvested crops this year. But the way that our farmers employ staff year-round, pay them properly and treat them well, meant the majority of their team are settled and living locally so they had no disruption to their workforce.
In this together
Community is another vital part of the resilience puzzle. It was heartening to see so many fellow Crop Droppers jump in to help each other, hand delivering other members veg bags when they were self isolating. What a wonderful bunch you are. You were so patient and understanding with us, going with all the last minute changes and the occasional mishap, with good humour and patience.
In response to the food insecurity the lockdown caused for people already vulnerable to food poverty, we set up the COVID meal project with Wolves Lane Centre team. This is yet again proof that people are amazing. Since May, we've produced 7015 meals for people hardest hit by the pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout. Every Tues and Weds our community cook, Sharon, manages to rustle up 300+ meals in the Wolves Lane kitchen with a team of 13 volunteers, including professional chefs. They transform organic produce grown on site and surplus food from the Felix project into delicious free meals which one recipient described as “restaurant quality”! Crop Droppers have donated a total of £3,400 via the Emergency Food Fund to help make this happen. We've also been able to revamp the kitchen, giving it a much-needed spruce up
All of these ingredients – the community ties, the support for key workers, the trust of our farmers, the commitment of our customers – will hold us in good stead to weather the next storm of Brexit, which will likely bring similar food shortages and more economic hardship. We've been completely blessed to have great farmers, dedicated and enthusiastic staff and volunteers and together we'll keep delivering the organic local produce week in week out no matter what.