As many of you know, having a positive impact on the environment is one of the fundamental tenants of our farming. Reducing our consumption, and our waste is one part of that. And it turns out it’s a difficult part during an international pandemic!
First I should say that we are by no means perfect. Much of the veggie seed that we buy comes in plastic, or plastic lined packets. Legally we can’t reuse any egg cartons customers return to us for selling eggs. But we can use them to grow seedlings. It’s all a cycle- or it should be! While we return and reuse all boxes and cartons to our partner farmers (for veggie box produce), we can’t reuse the packing tape, and every now and then a box is completely busted.
But we try hard to minimise the waste we create, and the resources that we waste. During COVID-19, our zero-waste philosophy has been put under pressure. The safety of our community has to be our first priority, and luckily we were able to come up with ways that, while not perfect, we were still happy with.
We are finally starting to wind some of these adjustments back. And we can’t wait!!
Our Main Changes
- During COVID all staff in close quarters inside (eg packing veggie boxes, or eggs) has been wearing a face mask. These masks are reuseable fabric masks, and we will continue to wash and to wear them until we feel the risk of a second wave has passed.
- Pre COVID our sanitiser of choice was a strong vinegar solution. It breaks down in the environment, and does little damage to our septic and waste water system. During COVID we switched to a chlorine bleach solution. We will continue to use this for now, although I’m hanging out for the day that we can return to our toxin free approach.
- Before COVID our veggie boxes were packed each week in a reuseable and returneable plastic crate, lined with a hessian sack sourced from a local coffee roaster. During COVID we decided that the risks of such a system (A crate moving from house to house within the community) were too high given how little was known about COVID, it’s longevity on various surfaces, and how it spread. We moved to a paper bag system. NO exaggeration- it’s been a nightmare! The bags sitting in our packing trolleys are too tall to pack ergonomically. The bags don’t stack, so we can fit significantly less orders into each van load, making deliveries less efficient. When all the produce is in a bag, it all mixes together- the tomatoes get squished, the salad mix gets dirty- so we’ve had to use even more paper bags and compostable punnets (resources!) to keep the quality of our produce high. And finally, all our produce is fresh. Often it’s been harvested and field washed the morning before it goes out to customers. And it turns out that super fresh, slightly damp veg is a real no-no for paper bags. They tear. The bottoms fall out. Until these last few months I could not explain why plastic bags became so prevalent. Now I know.
So it’s probably no shocker to tell you that our first wind back of COVID measures is going to be returning to our beloved crates. We’re still going to be careful:
- We won’t be using hessian lining sacks as they offer an extra possible contamination surface
- Each crate will be wiped down and have the handle area sanitised between uses
- All crates will be rested for a minimum of 72 hours between deliveries
This follows all government guidelines, and, now that we know more about COVID-19, we believe that this is enough to keep you safe, even if the pandemic should happen to worsen. Of course if you’re in a vulnerable position, or are paricularly at risk, we want to make sure you’re protected and feel comfortable getting our vegetable boxes.
If you (or someone in your family) are immunocompromised, have preexisting conditions, are elderly, or are simply worried, please get in touch with us. We are happy to continue to pack into a paper bag for you if you let us know. I’m just sorry you’ll have to keep dealing with the soggy bag bottoms!
All the best folks, and here’s hoping we’ll run into you at the library, or the local park before too much longer!