How do your products grow?

During my trip to Amsterdam last year I visited the Botanical Gardens and took some photos of a display in their main greenhouse. It was probably created for children and I didn’t think too much about it at the time, other than how cool the plants looked in the colourful packaging. Now though, I’m really beginning to think more and more about the food I eat and I feel it’s not what I eat that’s important, it’s about where my food comes from.

During the summer (and for as long as I can make my growing season last) I love the fact that I’m eating my own veg. However, I don’t think I’ve fully understood why I love it so much, until now.

Is it the satisfaction I feel from the actual growing act itself, is it the superior flavour, is it the money saving, is it the convenience of having food to hand and not needing to go to the shop, is it the environmental benefits such as providing a haven for bees and other wildlife, or is it all of these things?

It’s definitely all of these things but the biggest thing for me right now is that I know the origin of that food.

I can’t grow everything I eat though and I’m becoming more and more into the idea of changing my buying habits and choosing food and products that I can trace back to a source that I feel happy about. This will mean cutting down on trips to the supermarket in favour of local producers. It will also affect where I choose to eat out, so cafés and restaurants will have to be carefully selected. This will be a big shift for me as eating out is one of my favourite pastimes and I don’t have a local high street with small retailers.

I’m excited about changing my buying habits but this is going to be a massive challenge.

Don’t get me wrong, I do try to consciously buy good food from local sellers and markets already but I wouldn’t say that accounts for even 30% of my weekly shopping in the months that I don’t have a big harvest of my own. So, I’m busy googling local farm shops and researching like mad in the hope that I’ll be able to change and support the people who grow food for the same reasons that I do. I’m also working out how I can have a lot more crops available all year round.


This weekend whilst walking in North Yorkshire I noticed a pub in Malham offering ‘money off vouchers’ in exchange for any surplus home grown produce. I don’t think there’s a shortage of veg and flowers in this area so I can only assume that being able to tell customers that their products have been locally sourced is a big plus point.

Do you choose to buy food from local producers because you want to know where it originates from? Do you ‘grow your own’ for any of these reasons?


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40 Responses to “How do your products grow?”

  1. Cathy February 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    That will be a challenge, Anna – look forward to hearing how you get on. My real growing interest is decorative plants and I also have soft fruit, but I feel I ‘should’ also be growing some veg too (why? because I can, I suppose). I try to buy UK produce if I can, but I am afraid I don’t go out of my way to do so or to buy local produce although my conscience does niggle me a bit sometimes :(

    • Anna B February 19, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      Hi Cathy, I love growing decorative plants too and can’t wait for the day that I have a huge garden (in my dreams!) and can grow a lot more. I don’t go out of my way at the minute either and it could prove to be very tricky. I guess I’ll just have to do what I can to satisfy my niggling conscience! Thanks so much for dropping by and for your comment :)

  2. pianolearner February 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    My wife (wellywoman) and I go to the local farmers market every time it is on, and we love the great produce on sale there. BTW Malham is one of my favourite places to walk. i grew up close to the dales (near Hebden bridge) and have some great memories walking up Gordale scar and swimming in Janet’s Foss.

    • Anna B February 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      Wellyman!!! Hello there! It’s so nice to ‘meet you’ I’ve heard a few things about you from Wellywoman!! I love your piano photo on your blog. I used to play when I was younger. I’ve found a few local farmers markets that I didn’t know about so it will be a case of remembering to go regularly and just shifting a few of my usual shopping habits. Malham is awesome indeed, I just love all the Yorkshire Dales and funnily enough Hebden Bridge too! It’s a cool little place. Thank you so much for dropping by dude! :)

  3. Cathy February 19, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    Definitely- the knowledge that something really is organic and fresh is important to me too. I try and buy locally produced food, but it’s not easy, especially when it doesn’t look as “perfect” as the supermarket stuff. But I grow things for pleasure too – it’s fun! ;-) Love the idea from that pub – brilliant!

    • Anna B February 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

      Hi Cathy, interesting you mention about how organic food looks. We get organic fruit boxes delivered to work and it often looks weird and puts people off eating it. I’ve started to eat more of it though as it’s something I can trace. The pub idea is great isn’t it! It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like it!! Thanks so much for your comment :)

  4. Holleygarden February 20, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    We changed our eating habits over a couple of years. Now we rarely eat anything that is not grown by us, grown at the farmers market and canned by us, or if we buy from the grocery store, labeled organic. Eating out is a problem, but we only splurge once a week or so. It has made an enormous impact on my husband’s health (to the better). He has always had digestive problems, and since we started going organic, he rarely has any now. Good luck with your challenge!

    • Anna B February 20, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      Wow that’s so interesting about your husband’s health, I’m really pleased to hear about that. Canning your own food is such a good idea and really makes it last so you could almost have some of your own grown produce available all year round. Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing :)

  5. gardeninacity February 20, 2013 at 3:08 am #

    Do you have CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) farms where you live? This is where consumers contract with a specific farmer for a weekly delivery of produce, plus sometimes milk, eggs, and/or meat. It’s getting more popular here, and we’ve thought of signing up with one of the farms – several of our friends have done this.

    • Anna B February 20, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Hi Jason, we don’t have that as such but we can get milk and a few other items delivered from a milk round. I used to do this until I went away traveling and am looking into getting a new delivery started up. There’s private companies who will deliver organic fruit and veg boxes too but they rarely come before work and are really expensive. That’s basically how we get the organic fruit delivery at work. Thanks so much for the comment dude. I’ll definitely get back onto the milk round :)

  6. PJ February 20, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    I love what the pub is doing especially in these economic challenging times. I know exactly what you mean about knowing where your food comes from too… my rhubarb is just starting to poke through the ground and looks beautiful and bright pink so I’m looking forward to my first crumble. It’s not worth buying the limp, overly-expensive stuff in the supermarket :-)

    • Anna B February 20, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      Hello PJ Girl! Yeah the pub thing is cool isn’t it! Rhubarb is sooo expensive to buy. I hope you have a good crop fully though soon! There’s nothing better than your own crumbles :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  7. Anna February 20, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Couldn’t agree with you more! Last night I tucked into leek and potato soup made with leeks I had dug out of the ground 30 minutes before cooking. It was so satisfying and makes me so excited for the growing season ahead of us!

    • Anna B February 20, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      Hello Anna! Yes, there’s something really nice about cooking with your own food isn’t there! I brought some kale back from my folks plot at the weekend and it’s sooo nice to have some to hand. I seem to think of own grown produce as ‘real produce’ nowadays. Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  8. Sue@GLAllotments February 20, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Like you we grow our own for a mix of all those reasons. We rarely buy vegetables other than those we can’t grow or some early potatoes etc between our harvests. Fruit is a bit different as we there is fruit we love that we can’t grow or that storing fresh out of season isn’t an option. We have a couple of good farm shops neat to us and now we have time to shop more selectively.

    That restaurant is an inspiration isn’t it?

    • Anna B February 20, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      Hiya Sue! It sure is isn’t it!!! I just need to find myself some really handy places to pop into. One problem I might find is that Adam just loves Morrisons and he actually does a lot of the shopping. So whereas I will go out of my way, he might not… it’s one thing changing my habits but another trying to change his!!! Thanks so much for your comment :)

  9. wellywoman February 20, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    We’re lucky to live somewhere with some excellent local producers and we try to buy from them. The farmers’ market is brilliant, but only every 2 weeks so we stock up on meat and freeze it so we don’t need to buy from the supermarket. We all lead such busy lives and supermarkets are convenient. Gone are the days of shopping for food every day like people used to do. It can be hard fitting in the farmers market if we’ve got plans for the weekend but you’re right, it is about changing patterns and lifestyles. I was going to buy some forced rhubarb yesterday at the supermarket but it didn’t look very fresh and it was £3 a bunch. I put it back and will patiently wait for my own instead. The Riverford Organic box scheme is good. Even if you don’t want any veg they deliver meat and dairy produce.

    • Anna B February 20, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      Hello Wellywoman! Yes, Riverford deliver organic fruit to the office where I work. They’re great and I just love the fact that they’ve built such a good business from a farm they’ve had in the family for some time. I’ve just found another local farmers market so going to try and get there when I can! Like you though, if it’s on a weekend when I’m away – what then? I suppose it will just be one step at a time and hopefully finding a way of purchasing what I feel happy with that’s also convenient. Thanks so much for your comment :)

  10. Jo February 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    I grow my own for all the reasons you state. I think the pub have a great idea there, what could be better than them serving locally grown food. I’d like to bet that they get more custom now that they’re doing that too as so many people are more aware about these things these days.

    • Anna B February 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

      Yeah, I think a lot of people are concerned with their food nowadays too. Probably even more since the horsemeat in beef scandal! It’s a lovely pub too and I was really impressed by what they were doing. Thanks so much for dropping by and for your comment :)

  11. Ricki Grady February 20, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Portland OR is a hot spot for this way of thinking. It makes it easier, but it still requires a conscious effort. We grow the ugliest but best tasting pears!

    • Anna B February 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

      I can cope with ugly fruit too!! The taste more than makes up for it. I’ve been through Portland on my adventure from Vancouver to Mexico. It looked like a pretty cool place! I’ve been doing loads of research since my post and am finding some cool local markets and farm shops that I had no idea about, so fingers crossed I can make it happen. Thanks so much for dropping by!

  12. Janet/Plantaliscious February 20, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Its hard breaking away from the convenience of supermarket shopping, if you can’t pop out the back door and pick it you have to be more organised. No farmers markers around here, but a great wholesalers in the local market town selling local meat and veg. I hope to check it out once our vw is back on the road but mostly I hope to grow lots of food myself and eat less meat. Good luck finding new sources of food you can feel good about eating!

    • Anna B February 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

      Hi Janet! I’m already finding more and more places and really enjoying the challenge! It does mean a bit more organisation though, like you say. Growing your own is definitely best! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  13. VP February 21, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    Great idea Anna. I have a ‘local shops for local people’ link on my blog, so I can keep track of shops and businesses sourcing locally produced ingredients/products. Which reminds me I have 2 new eateries to add :) I live in a town but luckily I’m within walking distance of a farm shop. Oh and we have a pub which uses veg and fruit grown on their own allotment!

    • Anna B February 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      I love your link!!!! Great idea. Walking distance from a farm shop must be amazing and the pub sounds awesome too!! I’m really enjoying this challenge and it’s great to hear from other like minded people like yourself. Thanks so much for your comment :)

  14. thesneakymagpie February 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    Such a brilliant thing to be able to sell your surplus veg and fruit. And yep, the Dutch and their sense of humour. I used to live in Amsterdam for seven years and love seeing all the familiar packaging!

    • Anna B February 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      Hi Sneakymagpie! Yeah, the pub has got it spot on, supporting local growers and providing good food. The packaging is cool for growing veg in isn’t it! Thanks so much for yor comments :-)

  15. Nadezda February 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Anna, you are right, the veges growing in your own garden have the superior flavour.You can go to the bed and have some dill, celery, it’s wonderful to have some food you need for dinner to hand.

    • Anna B February 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      Hello Nadezda! I’m really missing having all my veg to hand, going to grow a lot more over winter next year because it is the best! Thanks for dropping by :-)

  16. notjustgreenfingers February 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    I call my four allotment plots my ‘Free Supermarket’. I love picking something and serving it for dinner, it gives me such a feeling of pride. I know it is organic and I know exactly what I put in the soil too….what can be better than that!

  17. Anna B February 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    I love your four allotment plots too! It’s so inspiring that you look after all four and make the absolute most out of them. I agree, there’s nothing better :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  18. notjustgreenfingers February 22, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    That’s ok Anna, I read your blog quite often but I don’t always have time to comment.

    • Anna B February 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      I know the feeling! :)

  19. Christina February 23, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    One of the things I loved when we first moved here was that the local veg shop labelled things as ‘local’ within about 5 km; ‘from Tarquinia’ about 25km away; ‘Italian’ and that only about 5% of the produce came from abroad. But I still like my own home-grown produce the best. Christina

    • Anna B February 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      That’s great knowing exactly where the produce was from. Having a local veg shop must be brilliant. Luckily I’m finding more and more places fairly local to me though which are going straight to the top of my ‘will buy from’ list! Really looking forward to having some of my own produce in a few months too. Thanks so much for dropping by :)


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