“The Green Bowl” is a local food hub set up by Helen O’Keefe and Tessa Dorrian to sell food that is produced in Elphin, Knockan and Ledmore, Sutherland. They sell food from their own crofts (mutton from Helen, beef and pork from Tessa, plus eggs, veg, bread and some other baked goods) as well as produce from other local growers (soft fruit & veg, and herbs) and there are a number of other local people interested in being involved in the near future.
Helen and Tessa manage the online shop and arrange deliveries. The other growers let them know what they will have available each week, and the price. They get it to Helen and Tessa on delivery day and Helen’s Mum acts as delivery driver to take it out to the customers. https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/the-green-bowl/shop
Helen explains how they got involved. “I’ve been involved with Nourish Scotland since I was part of their “Making a Living From Local Food” mentorship program in 2018 and they taught me a lot about Scotland’s food systems and its issues. I’m really passionate about local food as it’s better quality and tastier than most of what you can buy in the supermarket, our animals are well looked after (and loved!) and live natural lives outdoors with minimal input, and we all do our best to protect the land that we farm or grow in. I would much rather buy food that I know is coming from a system like this, than food that has been transported hundreds (or thousands) of miles from who-knows-what kind of production system.”
“Not only this, but if we can make local businesses out of producing food, then it will boost our communities – giving more people (and especially families) a reason to live here and work on the land, instead of everything being sold for retirement homes or tourist accommodation.”
“The original Green Bowl idea was partially inspired by the quality and quantity of “backyard” growers in Elphin. They produce amazing food here and, while none of us have enough individually to sell commercially, if we all got together, we could have a range and amount that was worth supplying to our own village as well as neighbouring villages. Not only that, but we could support each other in our growing and work together to help new residents (or existing residents who want to start growing) get started.”
“We are a crofting township (two actually – Elphin and Knockan are separate crofting townships) and crofting was originally about working together to produce food for local communities. We may not all be crofters, but we can all produce incredible food for our communities! Last year we started a farmshop in the Elphin Tearooms, mainly selling meat but also some surplus veg from local residents. The Tearooms was shut for most of this year due to Covid -19 so we needed another outlet for our produce. I attended an online webinar run by The Soil Association about moving sales online, where I learned about the Open Food Network and saw how it could work for our situation so we started up in July 2020 and the rest is history as they say.”
“Each producer is responsible for their own produce and set their own prices, and the customers can see who they are buying from. It’s kind of like an online farmers market. The Green Bowl collects a 10% fee on top of this price. About half of this fee goes to paying the Open Food Network and the card payment fees. The rest is to cover our delivery and admin costs anything excess will hopefully be used to help our producers – buying equipment, packaging and labelling materials, and maybe in the future organising training, making land available…. who knows!”