One of the best things that has come out of the Covid crisis is that we have all had to rethink our shopping habits – for the better. We are surrounded by the best fertile farm land in Britain, tilled and managed by some very smart farmers and growers. There is so much fresh, local produce available, so why are we buying from supermarkets when we can support our local businesses, get fresher, better quality food and reduce our carbon footprint?
So, for this issue we decided to review the different veg box delivery schemes in the town.
Each of our reviewers bought a veg box in the middle of May priced at around £15. We also included a few extras where available. We asked for a picture, contents list and comments on quality of goods, seasonality, value for money, service, optional extras and an overall mark out of 10.
The scoring system wasn’t exactly scientific, but three came out top – Simmons just shading it over Samsons and The Yard . All three were great value, supplying a rich range of fresh produce. The Simmons and Yard boxes had a large proportion of local produce, something which won high praise from our reviewers. We particularly like the Yard box delivery scheme as they have partnered with other local businesses, adding cakes, bread and even Kent wines to their offering.
As a community, we are truly blessed to have such fabulous food on our doorstep, which is fresh, seasonal and bursting with flavour. Let’s hope that once the crisis is over, all these schemes continue, especially for those who live on the fringes of the town or who can’t get out as much as they would like.
Faversham Market has now reopened where both Samsons and Simmons have stalls.
Foodari’s slogan is “Lovingly picked food and produce with provenance. Delivered safely to your door by passionate people who care”. It is a family run, farm-based business based near Molash, about eight miles away. Before the crisis, they supplied restaurants, hotels and schools. Once these closed, they diversified, launching a home delivery service. They aim to source produce from local growers where possible.
We ordered a small fruit & veg box (£16.45) plus 300g strawberries (£2.75) making a total cost of £19.20. They offer free delivery on orders over £16.50 (hence adding the strawberries!) but otherwise charge £3.95.
2 small cucumbers
2 small little gem lettuces
250g plastic box of cherry tomatoes
500g white grapes
6 medium free-range eggs
6 ripe bananas
3 medium onions
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of spring onions
The apples and pears were firm and good quality, the cherry tomatoes slightly unripe and from Holland. The strawberries locally sourced and good quality.
Comments: pricey and could be more locally sourced
Overall mark: 7/10
Peel and Pips
Peel and Pips is on Standard Quay and the shop is open from Tuesday to Sunday. As with most of the schemes you can order through their Facebook page. There is free local delivery in Faversham.
The veg boxes come in three sizes - 2-person box for £10, small family box for £15 and a large family box for £25. You can add on any number of fruit filler bags for an additional £5. Additional extras of sourdough bread (£4.20) plus a variety of eggs and spices (from Salt and Spice). I opted for the £10 veg box, plus one fruit filler and a sourdough loaf. Total price £19.20.
The fruit/veg produce is mainly from Spitalfields Market but Dan tries to source some local produce. He said that this currently consists of asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli and strawberries, but these were not included in my box. Overall the produce was fresh and lasted well except the satsumas which were on the soft side. The shiny red apples were over waxed and pretty tasteless. The leeks looked okay but were on the woody side.
The star of the show has got to be the incredible sourdough loaf – although a little on the pricey side, this generous sized loaf was fresh, springy, with a nice crust. It tasted delicious with that characteristic slightly sour taste consistent of a decent sourdough. It’s baked by Mrs Sourdough Bakery in Maidstone, using a mix of organic white and rye flour, water and sea salt.
Dan also has a variety of eggs including free range ones (multi coloured shells) from local rescue hens near Doddington (£2.50 for half a dozen).
Comments: Excellent sourdough bread but would like to see more locally sourced produce. The eggs were above the local market price of £1.50 for six.
Overall mark: 7.5/10
It was truly exciting to open our door to the extremely charming Roger from Samsons (Faversham Market) and receive their veg box (note deliveries in Faversham have now changed to Thursdays).
I don’t know how they make it work. I hope the quality is evident from the photo.
Priced at £15, the box contained an impressive range of fruit, salad and veg:
bunch of perfect ripe bananas,
red and green apples,
punnets of grapes and strawberries, both delicious
several kiwis and apricots
two little gem lettuces
a generous bag of
a bunch of local asparagus
1kg new potatoes
bag of mushrooms
We are a family of five and, although we hoovered up the soft fruit and other delicate items pretty quickly, we’re still eating our way through the rest five days later. An excellent box, superior quality and fantastic value for money. I would certainly recommend.
I can rarely get hold of ripe apricots but as this box included seven, I feel inspired to include a recipe I remember from the 1980's. My mother’s interpretation was characteristically organic:
Mix 2 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons crunchy brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon together and fill 6 halved apricots with it. Bake at 190 degrees for about 12 minutes.Serve hot, or cold with ice cream. Works with tinned too.
Well done Samsons - delicious and great value 9/10
D. H. Simmons Fruit and Veg
A local family fruit and vegetable farm near Faversham and established for over 140 years. You will have seen their produce in Faversham Market situated to the right of the Richard’s plant stall. The stall has now reopened but they have been offering fruit and veg boxes for delivery during lockdown.
We decided to order the weekly vegetable box at the beginning of lockdown. Having ordered vegetable boxes from other companies and being a little disappointed in the past I wasn’t expecting such variety from a local company. The fruit and veg were all amazingly fresh, great quality and flavoursome.
on the vine tomatoes
A bottle of their own Cox and Bramley apple juice was also added (£2.80).
bag of mushrooms
At the end of each week we have been very impressed with the variety of meals we have been able to make with the produce, as nothing had perished. We have been ordering the vegetable box every week since and will continue to do so.
As well as the veg box, they also supply apples/pears (£1.50 a bag), rhubarb (£2 a bunch), bag of bramleys (£2 a bag), jams (£2.60 a jar), apple and pear juices (£2.80 a bottle), and eggs (£1.50 for 6). They have just added cherries (£2 a punnet) and gooseberries (£1.50 a punnet).
They also have a slightly wider delivery area than some of the others.
Comments: Very good value for money, box cost £14.80, fantastic quality
Overall mark: 9.5/10
The Three Mariners, Oare in combination with Urban Salvage, their sister company
https://www.urbansalvage.co.uk/ or ring 07590 961930
All food comes from The Mariners own suppliers or is made in their own kitchens. They also supply a range of cooked meals, including Sunday lunch, delivered for free in Oare (minimum order £15) and with a £5 fee for further afield.
I ordered the Weekly Food Box (£20), a Homemade Sausage Roll (£1.50) and a Chocolate Brownie (£4.00). Total cost was £25.50.
Bunch of asparagus
7 (small) cherry tomatoes of different varieties
Small bag of spinach leaves
Little gem lettuce
2 litres of semi-skimmed milk
Block of French unsalted butter
Large white loaf
The delivery was erratic. I placed my order on Monday afternoon, was told that it would most likely be delivered on Wednesday, but that she would try to get it to me by the following day with a text or phone call to confirm when delivery would take place. There was no text or call and the order finally arrived at 3.45pm on Wednesday too late for our lunch when it was freshest.
A good variety of vegetables, exceptionally fresh and tasty, although it would have been nice to have had more tomatoes as these were different varieties and delicious. However, the bread was white. The image on the website is a brown/granary loaf, which would have been our choice. The bread was not great, very crumbly, difficult to cut and not very tasty. The eggs, are apparently free range but have quite pale yolks. Everything else I couldn’t fault.
The sausage roll was home-made and delicious, but only 8 cm long.
The chocolate brownie used high-quality ingredients and tasted delicious, but it was a small portion for £4. We felt this was a little overpriced.
Comments, the food box is a good buy. If I were to order again, I would specify a brown loaf and a morning delivery. The cooked goods were very good, but a little expensive for the size.
Overall mark: 8/10
We ordered the £13 veg box (more veg than fruit), a Wildbread sourdough loaf (with a choice of wild white, granary, spelt or rye at £3.80), 6 free range eggs (£1.60), a pint of milk (90p), bottle of local pressed apple juice (£3 or £3.75 for orange). There is also a £1 delivery charge within 1.5m of The Yard, increasing to £5 for up to 4 miles away. So total cost for this order was £23.30. Deliveries are made on Wednesday afternoons (3 - 7pm).
They aim to keep their operation plastic free and the £13 box contains 10 different local, seasonal, pesticide free and herbicide free vegetables and/or fruit. It is fantastic that they are sourcing so much of their produce from local suppliers – veg from Walmerstone Growers based Wingham, bread from James at Wildbread, milk from Plurenden Manor Farm Dairy in High Halden and juice from Chegworth Valley Juices near Harrietsham and Kent wines.
You have to be ready to eat some of the produce pretty damn quickly - the onions were on their way out and the carrots had gone after a couple of days, but this is the price for “pesticide + herbicide free.” You just have to have a squeeze and plan your meals accordingly. The apples didn’t really have much flavour, isn’t there anything out there locally at the moment, which would have been better?
In addition to the extras:
I think a decent veg/fruit box with goods chosen for you should always have something you wouldn’t normally purchase - to make you do something different. This week it was the broad beans, which were excellent and made a tasty pea and broad bean risotto.
I added the eggs and juice options, which were very nice. The bread is Wildbread, so you know what you’re getting there. Not surprisingly, they were a bit overrun on the cake front so I wasn’t able to get one with my box order. The lack of fruit may be a problem if you’re expecting more of a mix.
Comments: The main plus points are that most of the produce is sourced locally and it’s also good on the lack of plastic and pesticides.
Overall mark: 8.5/10
Other local schemes:
Kent Food Hubs aims to support local online markets, including veg boxes from Perry Court Farm, and offers a delivery service to Faversham (£5).
The Good’s Shed farmers market based in Canterbury offers a delivery service to Faversham for £8. You need to email your shopping list to firstname.lastname@example.org including your delivery address and phone number. Delivery usually within 48 hours confirmed by telephone. Products include items from their veg stall, bakery, cheese counter, staples, soft drinks, wine and cooked meals from their excellent restaurant. A very good variety across the board and all high quality. The artisan cheeses, all locally made, are exceptional.
Jack’s Veg is a market garden/micro farm located near Canterbury growing more than 50+ different types of seasonal fruit & veg, herbs, edible flowers, gourmet mushrooms and micro salads. They supply a baby veg box (£7.50) or big box or vegan box (£12.90). Unfortunately, when asked to provide a box for Tastes of Faversham, they were running at full capacity. We wish them the best of luck with their project.
Macknade provide a delivery service. You need to fill in their online delivery form to place an order. Delivery is free to Faversham postcodes with a minimum order of £30.