We are starting to think about winter here at Box Local towers, as the glasshouses prepare to close down, it would be easy to feel sad about the passing of summer. Personally though, I love the nights closing in and Halloween and Bonfire night signal the start of some glorious culinary adventures, with the opportunity for more roast dinners and family favourites.
Some other box schemes already have over a third of their produce coming in from Europe, whereas we have managed so far to deliver only UK produce since our business started in the spring. That’s not to say that we won’t have to dip into their supplies at some point. Our friends at Smallford Nurseries also own glasshouses in Spain, producing the same delicious Organic tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers you have enjoyed over the summer year round. They could produce these year round in St.Albans, but after the start of November the hours of sunshine mean the fruit lacks in flavour, so they take the opportunity to deep clean the glasshouses, reducing the risk of disease in next year’s plants. Their transport into the UK is by road, not air but this still means the fruit is ready for collection within 3 days of harvest. We won’t be putting their European produce in the boxes every week, but will be adding a few bits here and there to maintain variety.
As many of you will know, Sterling taking a battering has also affected the price of anything coming in from our European neighbours, so one can only assume that our competitors are taking a hit (or the boxes aren’t looking quite so full) by relying on so much imported food at this early stage in the year. Another reason for us to stick to what we grow here in the UK. We may need to get produce from other areas of the UK though as the weather worsens – Cornwall for example has milder winters than we do here in Hertfordshire so can produce more varieties later (and earlier) in the year.
“I don’t want a box full of swedes” I hear you cry! I’m with you – memories of watery mashed up swede and parsnips boiled to near extinction are still (fairly) fresh in my mind from the winters of my youth. We have become so used to year round availability of whatever fruit and veg we like, many of us have forgotten (or never knew) what to do with more traditional British fare, but these veg have lots to offer and can be cooked in so many different ways.
Throughout the season we will be making the most of what’s local, be it in a sautéed winter veg risotto, where small turnips are fried off to bring out their earthy flavour, or simply adding parsnips to your mash for a shepherd’s pie. With hints and tips in every box as to what to do with your weekly veg stash, you will soon be looking forward to winter too.
And don’t forget, if you really don’t like something we will always replace it for you, but perhaps just give it a try, you might be surprised…
Now I just need to plan some delights for our Christmas deliveries…only 8 weeks to go and counting!