How four of Stroudco’s partners are fostering nature-friendly growing methods

How four of Stroudco’s partners are fostering nature-friendly growing methods

Reducing carbon emissions, promoting biodiversity and taking care of the soil are central to our ethos at Stroudco(Stroud’s online grocery service) as we seek to connect local customers to local food producers and suppliers who care about our planet. Today we discover how four of our partners showcase this care for the planet in special ways.

A Haven For Wildlife    

Day’s Cottage supplies Stroudco customers with apple juice from totally unsprayed apples grown at Day’s Cottage’s own orchard at Brookthorpe.

Not only is the apple juice (plus the cider and perry they also produce,) totally free of any preservatives or additives, but the apple trees have all been planted to help preserve and rediscover ancient Gloucestershire varieties, while the orchards they grow in are a haven of pasture full of insects and birdlife.

Seasonal Apples – Day’s Cottage Orchards
Dave of Day’s Cottage Talking To Stroudco

Helen and Dave who run the business say they now have over 200 apple varieties, and have even planted a kilometre of hedgerows to protect the trees and enhance wildlife.

Putting Soil Health At The Heart Of Everything

For Zerodig which supply Stroudco with salad and herb crops, protection and enhancement of the soil is at the heart of their practice. Based at Oakbrook Community Farm just outside Stroud, Zerodig is a Community Interest Company which is enabling more young people to enter horticulture. Their pioneering No-dig methods are quietly demonstrating the ways we need to grow food in the future.

While so many modern farming practices seem to be at war with nature, degrading the soil, damaging ecosystems and releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, Zerodig works with nature.

Instead of ploughing up the soil and then adding fertiliser after each harvest, micro-organisms are left to build up in the soil, while green manures grown on site or locally available animal manure are added to increase fertility.

Not only does this method result in a burgeoning of micro-organisms in the soil and of insect and bird life, but the resulting crops are  delicious, as anyone who has tasted Zerodig’s wonderful, vibrant salad mixes supplied to Stroudco customers during the past year knows.

Just at present Zerodig are taking a break from supplying Stroudco as they re-organise and bring some new growers on board, but they will be back on our weekly list with leafy salads and herbs in a month or two.

Food Free From Damaging Chemicals   

Sadly, there are as yet too few local fruit and vegetable growers to supply Stroudco all year. Thankfully this gap is filled by our longstanding partner Global Organic Markets, a family run business operating out of Brimscombe, which supplies many local businesses and whose market stall in the Shambles is much loved.

Every item sold is entirely organic and Global seeks to source this as locally as possible depending on the season. While most of us know instinctively that organic is “better for you, better for the planet”, it is worth stopping to think what this actually means.

We might think first of produce that is free of chemicals sprays which may harm us an wildlife. But do we think how “organic” also means cutting out synthetic nitrogen fertilisers often imported from abroad, in favour of natural manures and fertilising methods, leading to healthier soils which protect carbon, prevent damaging nutrient run-off and foster biodiversity.

How wonderful to have a family-run business in Stroud dedicated to providing fruit and vegetables grown in this way.

A Holistic Approach To  Growing

Biodynamic growing also put nature at the heart, using organic methods with some additional practices.

These methods are exemplified by our fourth partner – Hawkwood Garden which supplies Stroudco with small amounts of seasonal fruit, vegetables and flowers all grown in the beautiful nature-rich grounds of Hawkwood College.

Anyone who has visited Hawkwood will know that the Arts and Educational Charity, which runs courses and hosts events at the college, follows a holistic approach which puts sustainability at its heart. 

Food That Nourishes People And The Planet

All four suppliers demonstrate putting nature first in different but equally inspiring ways which enable Stroudco customers to “buy local” while also supporting more planet-friendly farming methods. You can find the current produce available for each on our online shopfront by clicking the following link: www.openfoodnetwork.org.uk/stroudco/shop

We will be telling our producers’ and suppliers’ stories in more depth in future blog posts so watch this space!

– Written By Liz Whiteside, Stroudco Director (January 2022)