Crop Drop is part of a growing network of Better Food Traders committed to providing fresh, nutritious and sustainably grown food for communities while also protecting our Earth’s precious resources.
The current food system isn’t working for farmers, people or the planet, and we think we can do better. By supporting nature friendly farmers who nurture the soil and encourage biodiversity rather than depleting it, we believe it is possible to feed ourselves well, while also reversing the effects of climate and ecological breakdown.
We only source from organic farmers, prioritising those who practice this holistic form of regenerative agriculture. And we pay them a fair price too.
“We’re in a climate and ecological emergency and the dominant industrial food system is one of the biggest culprits. One of the beautiful things about Crop Drop is the opportunity to reconnect with the people that produce our food. I believe farmers are the key to solving many of our most pressing problems. Our health and the health of our planet are intrinsically linked, and understanding farmers and the challenges they face, is an important part of healing our broken food system. We champion this collaborative approach to selling and buying food, rather than the strictly transactional, market-driven relationship.” - Rachel Dring, Crop Drop founder
Food metres not miles
To achieve zero carbon, we prioritize shorter supply chains so that farms are serving the communities nearest to them. We already grow some veg from our beautiful greenhouse in Wood Green - just a few strides from where we pack your bags!
Championing climate friendly farming
We are moving away from a fossil fuel-based economy. We never use air-freighted or hothouse produce (heated greenhouses that use fossil fuels), artificial fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides. As well as providing people with fulfilling livelihoods, our farms support an abundance of healthy crops and wildlife. We’re passionate about protecting soil fertility so future generations can enjoy the same abundance.
Nourishing communities and empowering food citizens
We are building a community of food citizens (not consumers), who feel empowered to make healthy, informed decisions around food. In 2020, we set up the Wolves Lane Meal Project in collaboration with Wolves Lane and the Felix Project. So far we’ve delivered more than 13,000 free meals from surplus and locally grown produce for people in Haringey most at risk during the pandemic. We couldn’t have done this without the generous donations of our Crop Drop community plus grants from the National Lottery Community Fund and Haringey Giving.
Our Key Principles
We're a not-for-profit organisation that prioritises local food, direct trade with farmers, and short supply chains. Crop Drop is run by local people and we only deliver our service in Haringey. We keep costs down for customers, while giving farmers a fair price. Any profits are ploughed back into supporting sustainable agriculture and urban growing. Our business was founded based on the key principles set out below. All of our policies and structures reflect these key principles.
- Championing organic and sustainably-grown produce
- Sourcing produce as locally, seasonally and directly as possible
- Building a community of food citizens
- Powered by plants
- Shrinking our carbon footprint
- Trading fairly and transparently
- Think globally, act locally
- Driven by purpose not profit
1. Championing organic and sustainably-grown produce
We believe organic, small scale, regenerative farming is the key to fighting climate change, reversing declines in biodiversity and fixing our broken food system. As well as urban growers working towards certification, we mainly source produce that is certified organic, through the Soil Association, Organic Farmers and Growers Association or the Biodynamic accreditation. You can read more about the specifics of our sourcing policy here.
2. Sourcing produce as locally, seasonally and directly as possible
Among 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. As well as growing our own produce we source most of our veg through The Better Food Shed, an organic, not-for-profit, wholesale buying group, launched by Growing Communities. In line with the Food Zones framework [PDF] we hope to increase produce from urban and peri urban land and reduce imports.
3. Building a community of food citizens
To change the food system we also need to shift our diets to less but better quality meat and, being a veg scheme, we’d of course love to get more people eating more fresh, seasonal and minimally processed foods. As part of our mission to alleviate food poverty and reduce food waste we are working in collaboration with Wolves Lane to help those most in need in our community. Alongside the Wolves Lane Meal Project, expect to see more community food growing initiatives and subsidized cooking classes.
We welcome local people in the running of the scheme as both volunteers and paid members of staff. Perks include a supportive working environment and professional development, plus more homemade cake than you can eat and armfuls of organic veggies.
Crop Droppers are encouraged to share skills, knowledge and facilities to aid greater community connection and resilience.
4. Powered by plants
Scientists say switching to a plant based diet is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact on the planet. And local fruit and veg schemes, like ours, have a vital role to play. We only sell fruit and vegetables through our organic veg bag scheme, although we may sometimes treat our customers to extras, which support local ethical businesses. Crop Droppers have access to our extensive collection of vegan and vegetarian recipes created by local chefs and foodies, all designed to help you reduce food waste, explore new flavours and fall in love with locally grown, home cooked veg.
5. Shrinking our carbon footprint
Our veg is delivered in reusable, returnable bags, many of which are donations by a local printing company. (Don’t hesitate to send us your own unused tote bags- we’ll happily re-use them!). Alongside our farmers we’re shrinking our plastic footprint. Most of our veg comes loose while salads and leafy greens come in home compostable or recyclable packaging whenever possible. What isn’t returned to our farmers is recycled through zero waste to landfill service First Mile.
We think food should feed bellies not bins, that’s why we use any surplus in our community kitchen and donate leftover produce to local charities. Our onsite compost feeds our veggies, creating a closed loop system.
We minimise car and van journeys by delivering our veg bags to local collection points, rather than individual homes.
6. Trading fairly and transparently
We have a fair-trade policy that incorporates customers, staff and suppliers. We are open about our income and expenditure and communicate this honestly with our suppliers and customers.
Suppliers - For too long farming and food has been treated as a commodity with standards and prices driven down. According to an Oxfam report, supermarkets, who dominate more than 95% of the grocery market, receive nearly ten times more of the checkout price than the small-scale farmers who produce our goods. Clearly, this doesn’t add up. At Crop Drop, our farmers are paid a fair price, for example we pay our farmers 80p or more for a kilogram of potatoes, while the farmgate price is around 15p a kilo. This enables farmers to continue to grow sustainably and provide decent livelihoods for their staff. Read our supplier story here.
Customers – For every £1 you spend in the supermarket only 8% goes back to the farmer. But for every £1 spent with us more than 50% is returned to our farmers. With Crop Drop you can be sure the money you pay reflects the true value of the produce and goes towards nature friendly farmers rather than lining the pockets of supermarket bosses.
Staff – We aim to pay everyone at least a living London wage and have a pay ratio of 1:2. To put this into context the High Pay Centre think tank puts the pay ratio at Ocado at a staggering 1:2,605. This means the chief excec is getting paid more than 2,000 times the rate of the average worker. At Tesco it is 1:305 and at Morrisons the rate is 1:217.
7. Think globally, act locally
We are committed to creating opportunities for learning and sharing of knowledge, helping people to understand the current food system, the future of food and farming and the true cost of food and why it is important to pay a little bit more to the right kind of producers. Knowledge is power and the more people that are aware of the challenges we face in achieving food security the better choices they can make.
We always aim to support and encourage other organisations, communities and individuals who are actively working to improve community-led trade and sustainable and fair food systems.
8. Driven by purpose not profit
We’re here to prove it is possible to build a fair, transparent and ecologically sound food system that is economically sustainable. Research has already shown that for every £1 spent buying organic food through a veg scheme like ours almost £3 more is generated in benefits to customers, farmers, citizens and the planet. So by supporting us you are creating a ripple effect of good.
Crop Drop’s core work is paid for by self-generated income, with additional help from donations or grants for community projects, but we are developing long-term strategies for each new initiative to become self-sustaining.
Aside from rainy day reserves, all of our profits are invested back into the local community on initiatives that further enhance a sustainable food culture. Ultimately, we want to keep money circulating within our local communities, rather than profits being siphoned out to accumulate wealth for remote individuals or corporations.