Growing for a sustainable healthy future

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme
Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

Bags stuffed with potatoes, onions, carrots and brightly coloured fruits are lined up ready to be shipped out.

Everything inside is fresh, seasonal, organic and locally grown and is being prepared for delivery to a number of ‘hubs’ around Sheffield.

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

Customers will head out on foot to their nearest hub to collect the precious cargo and carry it back home, where its contents will be used to feed families for the next week.

This is Hazelhurst Community Supported Agriculture’s veg bag scheme.

“For a long time, this is how families lived - on fresh local foods,” explained Hazelhurst CSA Coordinator Kim Davison.

“Then the age of convenience came along and people stopped having time to buy locally and cook from scratch; it became easier to nip to your supermarket.

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme - volunteers working the land

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme - volunteers working the land

“Now that seems to be changing again and, for what feels like the first time in a long time, it’s mattering to people where the food has come from. It’s wonderful to see us getting back to that.”

Every week more than 30 bags like this are sent out across the city.

Hazelhurst CSA buys the food from Sheffield Organic Gardeners, packages it up and delivers it to the hubs.

Kim added: “A ‘hub’ is usually the home of a loyal customer that is quite central to an area.

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

“We have a storage box in their garden and deliver a number of bags there and our customers agree to walk out - in order to reduce our carbon footprint more - and collect their bags every week.”

Hazelburst CSA has been running the scheme for the past three years and it’s popular in Meersbrook, Heeley and Nether Edge and beginning to spread across the city.

The bags come in three sizes - small, medium and large - and are priced between £8.50 and £14.

Kim said: “The bags really are generously filled. Sometimes we struggle to get it all in!

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

Every week, we guarantee potatoes, onions and carrots and then I always choose three additional items to add in. It’s whatever’s in season and looks great that week, so it could be courgettes, or some great salad or herbs. We also include lots of fruit.

“I think Sheffield people would be shocked to discover how much lovely fruit is grown right here in the city - incredible apples, berries, rhubarb; stuff that so many people get used to buying at the supermarket from New Zealand or South Africa, and we’re growing it right on your doorstep.”

And Kim says it’s a great mix of people who are opting to take part in the veg bag scheme: “It’s young people who understand the importance of supporting our environment and it’s older people who remember when parents and grandparents used to get all their produce locally,” she said.

“We’re seeing more independent greengrocers and delis opening up within the city now too - places like Abbeydale Road are a prime example of this and offer people a real shopping experience. It’s great to see us all getting back to our roots.”

But, Kim adds, if schemes like this are going to keep going, it’s important to get a fresh influx of volunteers to get involved in the sowing and harvesting of local crops.

Kim said: “The majority of the veg bags’ contents come from our neighbours Sheffield Organic Farmers, but Hazelhurst CSA does have its own allotment, which we’re keen to work on and expand. We have some volunteers who come along and we’d love to see more people getting involved.

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

Hazelhurst Veg Bag scheme

“The most difficult part is engaging people and encouraging them to step away from the convenience of the supermarket. Once they do, they rarely go back.”

Email vegbox@hazelhurst.coop if you’re interested in finding out more about the veg bag scheme.