The best way to get your 5-a-day is by getting your fruit and vegetables locally. North-East Organic Growers offer a box scheme with the majority of the produce being grown on their farms. There is also the opportunity to add other local produce to your order. The box scheme offers a no-strings-attached option so you can see if this is something that works for you. You can collect your fruit and veg boxes from various collection points around Northumberland from Hexham to Alnwick. Alternatively, you can offer to be a pick-up-point if there isn’t a collection point near you. Pick-up points are also available in the Newcastle area.
North-East Organic Growers offer events throughout the year including Open Afternoons where you can see where and how the veg is grown on the farm and enjoy homemade refreshments. Also, you can volunteer on the farm between April and October and be involved in growing your own. Volunteers are welcomed whether you can commit to one day or one week during the busy times. It’s a great way to see if you are green-fingered.
North-East Organic Growers is a workers-cooperative. This means that the co-operative is owned and democratically governed by employees who are members.
How did your business begin? Can you tell us your history/origin story?
In the mid 90’s an Environmental centre called Earth Balance was set up near Bedlington in Northumberland, with various groups/businesses there, one of which was NEOG, started by a group of like-minded organic enthusiasts. Twenty-plus years later none of the original members remains, and the site itself has gone through many changes, but NEOG itself continues.
What values are at the heart of your business?
Organic principles. Growing local quality organic food for people in the area.
What does your product range include?
We grow as many kinds of veg as we can, which is almost the whole range except carrots and parsnips, which don’t enjoy our clay-rich soils. We’ve planted several apple trees which are now giving a good harvest. We also supply fruit, eggs, bread and apple juice. We grow as much as we can ourselves and buy-in from trusted suppliers when we have to, to keep our members supplied throughout the year.
Where can people buy your products?
Mainly through joining our box-scheme, through which members pick up veg and fruit bags weekly from a local collection point. We also sell at certain farmers’ markets.
How can your customers enjoy your product at its best?
By joining the scheme and not forgetting to pick up their bags!
How are you involved in the local food/drink producer community?
We generally find our hands pretty full doing what we do, with little time for extra involvement, but we do attend some farmers’ markets with other local producers and on occasion host farm visits etc for interested groups.
How does your location influence your business and product range?
Not greatly. With different soils, we could grow carrots and parsnips but other than that we’d be doing the same thing wherever we were.
Why do you think people should shop locally?
To support the local food economy, reduce food miles, reduce the power of supermarkets, get to know where your food is from and who grew it.
What is your favourite local food or drink?
I enjoy any beer from local producers, and there are some great bakers about. A man of simple tastes.
How could foodful help promote your business?
More awareness always helps!
Hat-Tip to the Producers
Thank you to Phil Tyler from North-East Organic Growers for his time and for the photographs.