3 Sep 2012 01:30pm

Six of the best: Vegetable delivery services

As people become more aware of the quality of the food they eat, demand for organic vegetables is soaring. More farmers have responded, setting up local delivery services. Here, we round up the best of them

Originally started by Devon farmer (and self-confessed "vegetable nerd") Guy Watson as a local delivery service, Riverford has grown rapidly in recent years and now delivers a staggering 40,000 boxes of organic produce a week all across the UK. With four farms, numerous other suppliers and a network of franchised delivery businesses, it’s more like an online organic supermarket. Its vegetable boxes start from as little as £10.

Abel & Cole
Founded in a south-east London basement in 1988, Abel & Cole switched to selling organic produce when customers preferred it to the regular vegetables. It thus pioneered taking organic vegetables from the farm to the front door. Abel & Cole now sells a wide range of vegetable boxes (from as little as £9), but like Riverford also offers a complete range of other organic produce and is also a full-blown online organic supermarket. In most locations, deliveries are limited to a specific week day.

Tolhurst Organic Produce
At the other end of the scale from the household name operators, is Iain Tolhurst’s locally focused organic vegetable farm delivery business. Tolhurst Farm is one of the oldest organic farms in the UK, and is based on the Hardwick Estate near Pangbourne in Berkshire. Rather than doorstep deliveries, Tolhurst delivers to a number of specified local reps in the Berkshire and Oxfordshire borders area. Prices start from as little as £8 for a simple box of vegetables.

The Organic Delivery Company
While many of these organic delivery schemes start with farmers spotting an opportunity to sell their produce directly to consumers, the Organic Delivery Company was started by a group of Londoners who wanted better organic food. Sourcing good produce from organic farms across the UK, it delivers boxes of fruit, vegetables and salad across London. Boxes start at £11.95.

Woodlands Organic Farm
Located in the wide, flat and open Lincolnshire fens, Woodlands is a large mixed organic farm. Farmer Andrew Dennis started to deliver boxes of his vegetables from Woodlands as long ago as 2000. Demand rapidly grew and the farm now delivers its organic fruit, vegetable and meat boxes across Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and the east Midlands.

Greenbean Organics
Early converts to the organic message, Bill and Liz Lawrence converted their Welsh beef and sheep farm to producing a broad range of organic produce in 1999. They now offer a wide range of fruit and vegetable boxes for delivery (prices start at £12) as well as a full range of other organic produce. They also run the Face of Flowers organic beauty range.