4. You won an award in 2015, tell us more…
Last September, we decided to take a very rare day off and go camping. I wasn’t planning on answering my phone but one caller was particularly persistent so I relented and was very glad I did. It turned out to be a representative from the Devon Life Food and Drink Awards inviting us to their ceremony. A few weeks later I received a posh invitation telling us that we had been shortlisted for ‘Best Newcomer’. I actually burst into tears!
We were up against some very well established businesses and I didn’t think we had a chance of winning – I was happy just to be nominated. When we actually won, it was like a dream come true. It made all of those early mornings worthwhile.
5. Where do you get your lovely produce from?
High quality produce is the lifeblood of our business – we want the best for our customers so we’re lucky to be surrounded by wonderful, local farmers where we live in Crediton. We source as much of our produce from Devon as we can. My mentor, John, from Dartfresh has put us in touch with some excellent local suppliers. Our neighbour, Michael Thorne, provides a lot of our tasty vegetables and the rest come from farms in East Budleigh and Yeoford. Our delicious apples are from Four Elms farm.
We’ve just started getting our salads from a new producer just outside of Bradninch and we’re meeting with local community growers to plan some lovely salads for the summer. We’ve also just had our first field planted with greens for the months ahead – I never thought I’d be so excited about a field!
6. What type of boxes do you make and approximate price range?
Today we have around 40 different boxes. But that can change quickly – sometimes I wake up feeling inspired and have a new box available online within a few hours!
Our lowest priced box is a Child’s Fruit Box at £15 and then a medley of fruit, veg and salad boxes ranging from £20 to £65. Our Deluxe Box (£45) is a customer favourite, it holds 12 free range eggs and as much fruit, veg and salad as I can squeeze into it – it’s a real whopper! Locally sourced meat boxes range from £55 to £65. We have a new range of meat boxes in development for those in training or following a particular diet or nutritional plan which I hope will be very popular.
7. I have seen a lot of redecorating posts on your Facebook page, what are you up to?
Yes, we’ve just moved to our new HQ. A lovely guy who owns a farm in Clyst St Mary showed me around some rental units but none of them seemed to fit the bill. He told me there was one more available –The Old Piggery – but he was pretty sure I wouldn’t want it. The ceiling was hanging down, the windows were rotting, covered in dirt and cobwebs and the floor had concrete pig stud in it but I just fell in love with the space. I knew I could transform it with a bit of love. It’s taken about three months and it’s almost complete – just the flooring to be finished. It’s like our second home now!
8. So what are your overall plans/vision for the future?
Now we have our HQ up and running, we plan to grow Veg in a Box significantly. We’re going to focus on letting people know who we are and what we do. We’ll be attending as many local fêtes, shows and festivals as we can – really getting ourselves out there. We’ve just commissioned the Prop Factory to help us get noticed at festivals so the next few months should be a lot of fun.
We’re also are going to continue to do as much fundraising for our chosen charities as we can. With the help of our generous customers, we’ve raised thousands of pounds for Hospice Care which we were thrilled about.
9. What makes you different from other veg box schemes?
We must be the only one that is totally run by just two people. I think that makes us unique (and exhausted!). It means that we really know our customers, their families – even their pets!
We make our boxes fun – we have themed boxes for every occasion imaginable. We’re even launching a kids master chef box soon which we hope will encourage children to have an interest in where their food comes from.
10. Tell us something funny, random or interesting!
Cats love our deliveries as much as their owners. Bela is so crazy about cats that he keeps cat food and treats in our delivery van. When we pull up, our customer’s cats are always the first to give us a friendly welcome!
Thanks to Julie for answering my questions in between her busy schedule. Devon is lucky to have a couple of veg box schemes available for the busy household, but if you like even more flexibility and choice and want to experience the epitome of personal touch – then give Julie and Bela a try! We can’t wait to see what they offer next.