How we make life better for farmers

22 Mar 2021
Grower Metske Bore Place

Amongst our core principles is our commitment to small farmers, which is part of our ultimate goal of supporting the development of a healthy, fair and resilient food system. We source most of our produce through The Better Food Shed, an organic, not-for-profit, wholesale buying group, launched by Growing Communities. The last year has been incredibly tough for farmers with unusual and extreme weather conditions and Brexit putting a strain on the UK farming industry, so it's so gratifying to hear when, despite the challenges, our small farmers succeed. We received this lovely letter from Metske at Bore Place, one of the growers that supply veg to The Better Food Shed, so we're sharing it with you too!

 

"Dear Better Food Shed and your customers,

Last year was the first year here for me as an independent grower after working 2 years as an employee for Bore place. I grew organic vegetables for 13 years near Hastings but as my lease was not renewed I had to look for another place to grow veg. Bore Place offered me an initial 2 year employment with the outlook to taking it on as my own. Moving from Hastings closer to London opened up the opportunity to get in touch with the Better Food Shed and Growing Communities.

First of all it is a joy to supply and trade with people who are in it for the right reasons, locally produced, respect for nature and the people who work the land. Thanks for that.

I hope I can pay this back with good quality vegetables for years to come.

The Better Food Shed has made the step towards building a sustainable business much much easier. As I supplied already a number of box schemes in the Brighton area there was a solid base to make an income. Although this income sustained me and my family it was hard work and paid the bills but not much more. Every investment took a lot of thinking and considering. With the interest of the Better Food Shed in mind I could finally invest 2 years ago in a few machines that would cut out a lot of manual work and back/knee breaking labour. Although a bit of a risk it has worked out really well. I am now in a position where I can grow larger amounts and still have a market for them. The ethos of the Better Food Shed guarantees me and my employees a honest price for our produce and their wages have gone up from minimum wage to £10 hour and my income has gone up as well. Even more luck as my partners income has fallen away due to Covid.

Trading with the better food shed has given me the opportunity to scale some crops up and specialize more on a few crops like whole head lettuce, fennel, and celeriac.

As my van broke down a few times last year after 13 year hard labour I was this year in the position to buy another on without sleepless nights. Sadly still diesel ☹ though.

So long story short. Thanks Better Food Shed and thanks to all your customers for making my business more sustainable and I hope to grow many more years organic veg. Although no farming practice is 100 % sustainable every acre farmed organic is a step away from a destructive farming practice that is all about quantity and profit for some.  I hope and see that our way of farming and trading is about quality and profit for all!

Many thanks

Metske"

Metske van der Laan
Market gardener
Bore Place

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