Living

My week at FarmDrop

25th April 2014

It’s a really exciting time for FarmDrop and things are moving really quickly. We’ve been blown away by the support and feedback we’ve been receiving from so many of you. Thank you.

Growing a strong and collaborative FarmDrop community is at the heart of every thing we do, so we wanted to give you more of an idea of day-to-day life at HQ. I’m taking the plunge first (so be kind).

So here’s my week at FarmDrop:

Good news of the week:

We opened our 15th FarmDrop! Huge welcome to our new Keeper Amy from Brighton, who’s joining local food superstars Anne & Pauline from the Worthing FarmDrop and Sophie from the Hove FarmDrop. Go team Sussex!

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Oh and some more exciting news: We’ve got a brand new edition to the FD team – FD’s founder Ben Pugh has just become a daddy! Can’t wait to meet the little guy soon.

Bad news of the week: Lunch fail. 3 days a week one of us cooks lunch for the rest of the team and today is my turn. And I’ve been pretty rubbish and haven’t planned a thing. Looks like it’ll be a Ben Pugh special* again guys, sorry.

*Bread, with a lump of cheese if we’re lucky.

Food highlight of the week: This one’s easy: my weekly pickup from Theresa and Jack from Soleshare. Fresh off the boat that morning, every Wednesday I pick up the catch of the day from Hackney City Farm on my way home from work. The quality and freshness of the fish is truly spectacular and they pack you off with a handful of recipe cards bursting with yummy ideas. This week I tried my hand at fennel and herb stuffed pollack. And it was marvellous. We’re big Soleshare fans so please check them out.

Three things I learned this week:

  1. Incredibly there are NO fishmongers in a coastal town of nearly 80,000 people in the South West (yes Weston-super-mare, I’m looking at you.)

The best part of my job is talking to people that want to set up FarmDrops in their community. These people, our potential FarmDrop Keepers, come in all shapes and sizes. Farmers’ wives, local food advocates, community groups, student groups, mums, dads, young and old, and pretty much everything in between.

This week I spoke with a couple who want to bring their existing food buying group into 2014 by getting digital and setting up a FarmDrop in Weston-Super-Mare. Growing up in Bristol meant outings to the pier and the Tropicana in W-S-M were regular summer activities of mine, so it’s awesome to hear word is getting out to places we know. And it feels extra special to be able to pin a new FarmDrop community on the map next to my desk without the aid of google maps (more on this in point 2).

So, excitingly it looks like we could have our first West Country FarmDrop go live in the next couple of weeks. And in true west country vernacular; that’s well lush.

  1. My geography of the UK is terrible.

Really, really terrible. Geography was never my strong point, but in my defence I’m not even sure I ever actually spent time learning about the counties, cities and towns that make up this little island of ours.

Anyway, it’s fair to say I’m having a crash course in UK geography at the moment. And it’s pretty fascinating exercise. Not only am I getting to learn more about as yet undiscovered pockets of the country (my favourite new town is Irthlingborough in Northamptonshire – it sounds like something from Lord of the Rings), I’m learning more and more about the UK’s food and agricultural landscape.

The move towards more intensive farming methods means large parts of agricultural land in the UK is being farmed through monoculture production methods (producing or growing a single crop over a wide area). This significantly limits diversity and means our Keepers in Northumberland and Country Durham have to go much, much further afield for fruit and veg, as they’re pretty much exclusively surrounded by livestock farmers. This lack of diversity has had a devastating knock on effect to our wildlife – the UK farmland bird has decreased by over 50% since the ‘60s.

  1. There’s an awful lot of good people out there. In this small but growing community of sustainable food advocates and beyond.

Big shout outs this week to all the good people out there giving us a big helping hand in this very busy, but exciting time for us:

BIG thank yous to:

  • Helen Starr-Keddle and the Brighton & Food Partnership for supporting our burgeoning trio of Sussex FarmDrops.
  • Finchley Road Keeper-Superstar Matt for his unbridled enthusiasm and helping us plan our London meetup in June.
  • Nick from Fosse Meadow Farm for helping with our testing and hooking us up with a Food Club in the midlands
  • Our friend Ellie Dowding from Food Newcastle for all her helpful tweets promoting the Wylam FarmDrop.
  • And as ever, all our Keepers and Producers for your patience and support. You guys rock and we couldn’t do any of this without you.

And totally non food related, but like many of you I’ve been blown away by the #thumbsupforstephen campaign that’s exploded over the past few days. What a brave, brave young man. So if you haven’t donated yet, please dip into your pockets (the 2014 way) and text “Stephen” to 70500.

Weekend plans: Worthing our are first FarmDrop community and we’ve been working closely with them for a good few months now. They’re just about to start trading so Ben Patten and I are heading to the South Coast tomorrow for their launch party. Photos and updates to come!

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Have a great weekend.

x Hannah

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