We’re Backing British Farming, and it’s Exciting!

Today is Back British Farming day!  Did you know that UK food self-sufficiency is now just 61% – down from 75% in 1991?  The campaign by countryside magazine highlights acres of reasons why British farming deserves your support, as well as offering you the chance to make a real difference.

The day coincides with the week that we took part in Go! Organic –  a London-based festival encouraging people to take part in organic living. We built and constructed a pop-up farm shop for the people of London, at which we showcased five of our key British growers.

The event was a huge success, with people lining up to buy our produce! We were very proud to be able to shout about the growers  – Sunshine & Green, Cherry Gardens, Tablehurst Farm, Dynamic Organics and Sweet Apples Orchard. Daniel from Orchard Farm’s eggs also went down a storm.  We had several comments on the quality of our produce, with some people even asking if it was real – the ultimate compliment.

We pride ourselves on our growers and the quality of our produce and our British farmers who are working hard to enhance the British countryside, protect the environment, maintain habitats for native plants and animals and support wildlife species. Whether it’s helping birds get through the winter months by putting down seed, establishing woodlands and hedgerows to create habitat for animals or planting fields of pollen and nectar rich flower mixes to feed bees and butterflies, British farmers are taking action every day.

Our growers take real pride in the land that they grow on, and try to encourage and enhance wildlife every step of the way. For example, Jonathan at Cherry Gardens Farm collects fallen apples over the summer and stores them until the winter, when he puts them out for the birds that may be struggling with the frozen ground, and Blueberry Bob in Horsham practises biannual thinning and coppicing of  woodland on the farm, which has encouraged flora and shrubs such as bluebells, narcissi and snowdrops, buddleia and elder and has recently received a forestry commission grant for coppicing regeneration.

With the spirit of buying British in mind – it’s time to introduce our new line of BRITISH GROWN pulses and grains! We’ve started stocking Hodmedod’s, who specialise in British grown chick peas, spelt grain, lentils, and – for the first time – British grown Quinoa. We’re very excited to have them on board, and are hoping that you can revolutionise your cupboards and eat more of these protein-based little treasures, safe in the knowledge that they’ve come from a local grower with a transparent food chain.

Buying British has never been more important. With climate change, rising diet-related ill-health and widespread declines in our wildlife, the need to produce healthy food, cut food miles and protect our wildlife is getting more important. Choosing how we eat is a simple but powerful form of direct action:

 

1.BUY BRITISH

  • Buy British food with a transparent supply chain – so you know the journey that your food has taken to get to your table. This way you can ensure that your food is of the highest quality, and that the farmer who grew it has been cut a fair deal.

 

2. EAT WITH THE SEASONS

  • You can check out the Great British Larderto find out when British fruit and veg are at their best. It’s important to eat seasonal produce because that allows you to buy British all year round. This cuts food miles and guarantees that your food has come from a place of quality.


3. CARE FOR THE COUNTRYSIDE

  • British farmers are custodians of around 75% of the British countryside. It’s important that we too take responsibility for it too.  Whilst out enjoying the countryside, make sure you take your litter home, follow the countryside code, and if out with your four legged friends, keep them on a lead around livestock and pick up after them.


At Greener Greens we take pride in our growers. All of them are independent, certified organic or biodynamic, and take great pride in their produce. This shows in the quality of the produce in our boxes that we send out weekly. The farms that we collect from all take great steps to preserve and encourage their natural environments and habitats. If you shop with us, you can guarantee that you’re backing British farming.

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Recipe: Pesto Spaghetti with Tofu

In this hot weather we don’t really want to spend time cooking! We’ve come up with a great simple recipe for your dinner – homemade pesto with spaghetti or tagliatelle and optional tofu. It works wonderfully with a tomato & red onion salad.  It’s really quick and easy to make and basil is one of the healthiest of the herbs!

Make the Pesto:

2 cloves garlic

1/2 handful of pine nuts

50g basil

parmesan cheese to taste

Put the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and chop them.  Then add the basil leaves (no stalks) and do a short burst so that the leaves are chopped, but not too finely.  Add some water to emulsify, give the processor a burst and then add grated parmesan cheese. Give the processor a burst and finally drizzle in a small amount of olive oil while the food processor is on.

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For the Pasta:

2 Courgettes, cut lengthways

250g spaghetti or linguine

150g tofu, cut into small cubes

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti along with the courgettes cut lenghtways. simmer until pasta is just done. If you’re using tofu, heat up a frying pan with olive oil and cook until slightly brown. Add half of the pesto to the pan to warm up, then add pasta and courgettes and season.  When warmed through turn onto plate and top with remaining pesto.

At the moment we have particularly gorgeous basil from Kent. Why not add it as an extra to your box?

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National Insect Week – It’s Finally Here!

 

I’m sure that many of us remember standing in a field when we were younger and feeling overwhelmed by the buzzing of insects. Even if you don’t, you may well have noticed a distinct lack of insect remains on your windscreen after a drive in the dark. Crudely put I know, but there is a good reason for this.

Over the last 25 years there has been a 75% decrease in flying insects in the countryside. Any landscape dominated by agriculture will have noticed the distinct lack of life amongst the crops. This is due to the intensification of agriculture, the use of pesticides and the increase in land value to farmers (mostly due to the dangerously low produce prices dictated by supermarkets.)  Once, farmland had hedgerows and wildflower borders, but now as a general rule, this is no longer the case. The farmers just can’t afford the space. Many farmers have no option but to see their land as an asset rather than a piece of nature.

There are things we can do to help though. Becoming attuned to our tiny little friends is an incredibly rewarding thing.  Since I’ve become interested in insects my walks have become infinitely more interesting. For example, here is a Cardinal beetle. I found him on an early morning birdwatching walk in Kent.

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And here is an incredibly rare caterpillar – he becomes the Heath Fritillary butterfly. I found this one on a walk in Blean Woods near Canterbury.

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The RSPB website is an incredible resource – offering advice on everything from how to encourage wildlife to your garden using flowers and grasses, to how to build a ‘bug hotel’ from dead wood.

The National Insect Week website is a brilliant hub of information and has some incredible learning resources. This week there are events being run all over the country  designed to educate and encourage people to get involved with the wildlife around them.

It’s amazing what you can find around you – and it’s even more amazing when you know what you’re looking at!  Education is a really important way of ensuring that we care for the natural world – once people know what is out there, they’ll really begin to care for it.

Here’s an inspirational video, in case you weren’t quite swayed enough.

Herbs – The Spice of Life

The use of herbs dates back to early humans. Early civilisations wrapped meat in the leaves of bushes, accidentally discovering that this enhanced the taste of the meat, as did certain nuts, seeds, berries – and even bark. Our chief supplier of herbs & spices – Steenbergs Organics are passionate about them. And so they should be! Spices not only take your meals to the next level, they’re also brilliant for your body.

Arab traders were the first to introduce spices into Europe. Realizing that they controlled a commodity in great demand, the traders kept their sources of supply secret and made up fantastic tales of the dangers involved in obtaining spices.  Today, spices are used in almost everything we eat, and costs are relatively low. It is hard to imagine that these fragrant bits of leaves, seeds, and bark were once so coveted and costly. For centuries wars were waged, new lands discovered, and the earth circled, all in the quest of spices. However, many of the spices have properties as well as their culinary uses. For example, research has shown that turmeric is full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and horseradish contains substances known as phytochemicals, which possess properties that mimic the ability of antioxidants which give a boost to the immune system in our bodies. Herbs and Spices have antibacterial and antiviral properties and many are high in B-vitamins and trace minerals.  Most herbs and spices also contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than fruits and vegetables.

 

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Spices are the buds, bark, roots, berries and aromatic seeds that are harvested for use in flavouring cooking. Herbs are the fragrant leaves of plants. Even the tiny filaments of saffron are referred to as a spice. (Saffron is the stigma which is hand plucked from a small mauve crocus native to Kashmir – hence its expense.) Most spices are grown in the tropical regions of the world, with some thriving in the cool misty highlands. Many of the seed spices come from more temperate areas, such as coriander seed, which is grown in Northern India, Africa and Eastern Europe.

The majority of spices are still harvested in the way they have been for centuries, by hand! Most of the developments in the spice industry have been with respect to growing and post-harvest treatment such as grading and cleaning.

Below are a few of our key herbs and the health-benefitting properties that they have:

 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has the highest antioxidant value of any spice. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar and blood pressure. Cinnamon has also been used to alleviate nausea. It provides manganese, iron and calcium. It can help extend the life of foods, along with nutmeg and orange.

Whilst cinnamon is most commonly used in baking and we tend to overdose on it at Christmas time, it can also be used in savoury dishes. Try adding it to a white sauce in a lasagna, pumpkin soup or even curry.

 

Basil

Basil is brilliant in everything from salads to soups. It has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and can help prevent arthritis. It has been used in digestive disorders and is being studied for its anti-cancer properties. Though commonly used in Italian cooking, Basil is a versatile herb that can be added to practically anything.

 

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Paprika

Recently, it’s been found that paprika not only helps your body fight inflammation and disease in general, but it may even have specific targeting to prevent and fight autoimmune conditions and certain cancers. Paprika also boosts your daily intake of vitamin E. Each tablespoon provides 2 milligrams of vitamin E, or 13 percent of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin E helps control blood clot formation and promotes healthy blood vessel function, and also serves as an antioxidant. Paprika is also an excellent source of iron.

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Turmeric

Turmeric is a common ingredient in Indian foods, and a great addition to soups. It contains Curcumin, a cancer-fighting compound. It is best known for its ability to reduce inflammation and improve joints. If you are struggling with inflammation, you can grate a small amount and eat it raw. You’ll notice the effects fairly quickly. Try adding turmeric to your daily cooking – only a small amount will make a big difference!

 

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Garlic

In our opinions, garlic is a cupboard essential. Fresh cloves are always best, but powdered, minced and granulated forms provide excellent flavour. Studies show that just 2 fresh cloves a week provide anti-cancer benefits.

 

Dill

Dill has antibacterial properties but is most known for its stomach settling ability (ever wonder why pregnant women crave pickles?). It contains a variety of nutrients but loses most when heated to high temperatures. For this reason, it is best used in uncooked recipes or in foods cooked at low temperatures. It is a great addition to any type of fish, to dips and dressings, to omelettes or to poultry dishes.

Cayenne

Cayenne has many health benefits and can improve the absorption of other nutrients in foods. It has been shown to increase circulation and reduce the risk of heart problems. It  is also a great addition to many foods. In small amounts, it can be added to practically any dish, meat, vegetable or sauce. As tolerance to the spicy flavor increases, the amount added can be increased also.

 

Mint

Mint has traditionally been used to calm digestive troubles and to reduce nausea. Many people enjoy a tea made from peppermint or spearmint leaves, and the volatile oils in both have been used in breath fresheners, toothpastes and chewing gum. Externally, the oil or tea can be used to repel mosquitos.

 

Oregano

Oregano is a common ingredient in Italian and Greek cuisine. Oregano (and it’s milder cousin, Marjoram) are antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer and antibiotic. It is extremely high in antioxidants and has demonstrated antimicrobial properties against food-borne pathogens like Listeria. Its oil and leaves are used medicinally in treatment of cough, fever, congestion, body ache and illness. Combined with basil, garlic, marjoram, thyme and rosemary, it creates a potent antiviral, anti bacterial, antimicrobial and cancer fighting seasoning blend. It can also be sprinkled on any kind of savory foods. A couple of teaspoons added to a soup will help recovery from illness.

 

Cumin

The second most used herb in the world after black pepper, cumin provides a distinct and pleasant taste. Cumin has antimicrobial properties and has been used to reduce flatulence. It is a wonderful addition to curry powder or to flavor Mexican or Middle Eastern dishes.

 

Curry Powder

Curry powder can have a wide variety of ingredients, but often contains turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, mustard powder, cayenne, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, fenugreek and a wide variety of peppers. With all these ingredients it has an amazing range of beneficial properties. Curry is an acquired taste, but can be added to meats, stir frys, soups and stews.

 

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Rosemary

If you’ve had rosemary it was likely on a lamb dish, but its uses are much more varied. It has a high concentration of the antioxidant carnosol and research shows it may have benefits in cancer treatment and healthy digestion and use of cholesterol. It has a pine/lemony scent and it can be used in soap making due to its smell and ability to fight aging by rejuvenating the small blood vessels under the skin. If you aren’t ready to jump into soap-making just yet… try it on meat dishes, in soups or with vegetables. Water boiled with Rosemary can be used as an antiseptic.

 

Thyme

Thyme contains thymol, a potent antioxidant (and also the potent ingredient in Listerine mouthwash). Water boiled with thyme can be used in homemade spray cleaners and or can be added to bathwater for treatment of wounds. Thyme water can be swished around the mouth for gum infections or for the healing of wounds from teeth removal. Thyme tea can also be taken internally during illness to speed recovery. In foods, it is often used in French cooking (an ingredient in Herbs de Provence) and Italian. Add to any baked dishes at the beginning of cooking, as it slowly releases its benefits.

Once you have a basic understanding of the various spice flavours and how they complement different foods, you can use your own creativity and taste instincts to experiment with a whole range of combinations. Being adventurous with spices can make cooking fun! To see our full Steenbergs range, visit our website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uh Oh! There’s Meat in your Veggie Meal!

Last Friday it was revealed that traces of meat have been discovered in supermarket ready meals. Ready meals by both Sainsbury’s and Tesco have been caught out – and the presence of whole animal DNA indicates that the meals contain either meat or animal skin.

This is disturbing as every consumer has the right to know what is in their food.  In our society, it is fast becoming the norm to expect supermarkets to ‘lead the way’ when it comes to environmental issues. We’re expected to applaud them for voluntarily pledging to cut plastic waste by 2025, yet there are small businesses that have existed for years that have been built on environmentally friendly foundations from day one.  Finding meat traces in independently approved ready meals made by the supermarket giants themselves is just another scandal in a long, long line of them. And it’s not going to be the last either.

And yet, they still want us to feel dependent on them. Maybe it’s time we stopped waiting for the giants to decide when it’s time to start caring about the environment. After all – they only decide to change their ways when the consumers start to object to their practices – it’s rarely done for the good of the planet or because it’s simply the right thing to do.

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Big supermarkets work purely for profit – at the expense of the environment, the people who supply them and even their own customers. There are thousands of small, independent businesses out there which have been created out of love and passion for the way things should be done to ensure that everybody along the supply chain – along with the land itself – is treated fairly and with respect.

We keep saying it: The consumers are the ones with the power. We control where our money goes and who we give it to. Choosing where we buy is a powerful form of direct action. Let’s not leave the important decisions to the giants anymore – if we want to ensure that there’s no meat in our veggie meals, let’s make our own! If we don’t want to throw away plastic packaging every day, let’s not buy it in the first place. If we don’t buy it, they won’t put it on the shelves.

Most importantly – as a powerful consumer with the luxury of choice – let’s share that power with the small, independent and ethical business owners rather than the businesses that show us, time and time again, where their real priorities lie. We should make more of a conscious effort to buy from the people that really care, rather than the people that just pretend to.

 

Bake With Jack: Another Exciting Recipe

We were lucky enough to get a recipe from Jack last year – and now Bake with Jack is back! Chef Jack Sturgess is passionate not only about baking – but about spreading the message that anyone can make their own bread from home. He runs workshops, demonstrations and classes across Surrey to prove that ANYONE can make their own, and that it’s not scary!

He says that he started Bake with Jack because:

Modern bread in the UK is awful (my personal opinion). It is laced with processing aids and artificial additives. In my opinion the structure and texture of it alone is enough to give us a dodgy tum!

Because bread making shouldn’t be a confusing, scary process. Let’s keep it simple because you can do it.

Homemade bread is delicious, and all the more delicious because the flavour is elevated by the pride you feel for having made it yourself! With your hands and your heart.

We wholeheartedly agree with this, and were intrigued to see whether we could collaborate with him in any way. So a couple of weeks ago we sent Jack one of our seasonal veg boxes to see what he could make of it. We’ve been lucky enough to get something back, and we’ll be hearing from him with yet another recipe over the next couple of weeks!

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Here’s the recipe – enjoy. And thank you to Jack for sharing this with us, we are really excited that you’ve come up with something so brill! I can’t wait to try this for lunch one day this week.

 

Grilled Asparagus Ciabatta with Lemon and Tarragon Pesto

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Serves 2

 For the Pesto:

 

20g          Greener Greens organic tarragon leaves

80g          Olive oil

10            Toasted pine nuts

20g          Finely grated pecorino

Pinch of Salt

 

12            Greener Green organic asparagus spears

1               Ciabatta

1               Clove of garlic

½               Lemon

4tbsp     Greek yoghurt

 

Olive oil

Black Pepper

Salt

 

 

 

First make your pesto. Put the olive oil, tarragon, pine nuts and a pinch of salt into a mini food processor and blend together. You can make it quite smooth if you like but I like mine to be coarse. Add the pecorino and pulse until it is just combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if you need to.

 

Trim the woody ends off the asparagus spears, peel and halve the garlic clove, and cut two chunks of ciabatta. Rub the cut side of ciabatta with a little olive oil.

 

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until it is just smoking. Grill your ciabatta for around 2-3 minutes until charred and when they are still warm rub the grilled side with the cut side of the garlic and season with a little salt. Put the ciabatta toasts on two plates.

 

Next get the asparagus onto the grill. I like to hold mine down with a potato masher to be sure they get charred evenly all the way up the stems. Grill for 2-3 minutes, then turn them over and grill the other side the same. No need for oil at this stage as it’ll just make your kitchen smoky! When they are ready they should be charred and blackened in lines with still some bite.

 

Place the hot asparagus into a large mixing bowl, add three tablespoons of your pesto and a good squeeze of lemon. If your pesto is well seasoned you shouldn’t need to add any salt at this point. Toss the asparagus to dress it nicely all over then arrange the spears on top of your toasts.

 

Finish with two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt on each one, a drizzle of the pesto that’s left in the bowl and a little black pepper. Serve!

 

TIP: Any leftover pesto will keep nicely in the fridge for two days.

 

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National Vegetarian Week: A Rather Special Recipe

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, over the next four weeks we will be collating recipes from a variety of talented cooks and chefs. All of the recipes have been inspired and created by the produce that we have provided. Our aim is to prove that – whether you’re a Michelin starred chef, a baker or simply somebody that enjoys cooking, organic and vegetarian food is for everybody.  We’re really curious to see the different ways that our selection of produce is going to be used!

This week, we have teamed up with Javier Lopez – Chief Food Evangelist for the Winton Group. By combining our beautiful, independently grown produce and his exquisite culinary technique, a truly stunning recipe has been created. This recipe is perfect for special events and dinner parties, or for somebody who just wants to try something different. Read on to find out how to make this fabulous starter – and remember – all of this produce can be sourced locally by us, which will make it taste even better!

 

 

Chard, Spinach and Wild Garlic Millefeuille

 

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Ingredients for 4 portions, as starter:

2 duck eggs

50g Maldon salt

30g coconut sugar

25g fennel pollen

100g goat’s butter

50g fermented wild garlic

50g chard

50g perpetual spinach

40g wild garlic

Flowering shoots to garnish

 

Method:

  • You will need to cure your eggs a day in advance; combine 50g of salt, 30g of sugar and 25g of fennel pollen in a bowl, place half of it on a flat tray or container and make a small well with the back of a spoon, place the duck egg yolk (ensuring no egg white remains) in the well and cover with the rest of the cure mixture. Refrigerate for 24hours.

 

  • Clarify (skim the surface of the liquid as it is heated to remove impurities) 100g of goat’s butter, saving the milk solids for other use, add 200g of fermented wild garlic leaves, buds and flowers and a leaf of raw wild garlic. Puree until very smooth and add a little fennel salt.

 

  • Blanch (scald in boiling water and remove after a brief  interval) the fresh chard, spinach and wild garlic leaves in salted water and immediately refresh in iced water, quickly drain and dry.

 

  • Layer the leaves one by one brushing a little fermented wild garlic butter in between each layer, build it up until is around 3cm tall and refrigerate. Once cold, portion it by timing into rectangular pieces.

 

To Serve:

  • Get the yolks out of their cure and lightly rinse in cold water. Set aside.

 

  • Place the vegetable millefeuille onto a plate and wrap it with clingfilm, place the plate on top of a simmering pan with water and let it warm for 5-6 minutes.

 

  • Gently remove the millefeuille of the plate and place onto your serving plate or bowl, cut the egg yolks in half and place half of it on top on the millefeuille. Garnish with a raw shoot and its flower (you can use peas, wild garlic, nasturtium, chickweed, etc)

 

Recipe by Javier Lopez, Chief Food Evangelist.

 

Keep checking back for our follow up recipe posts! In the meantime – enjoy this one!

Our Growers: Michael Hall School

The 2 ½ acre walled garden at Michael Hall School unites many activities.  Within the garden, they grow about a hundred varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and top fruit, all to Demeter standards – the largest certification organisation for biodynamic agriculture. Compost is important to biodynamic gardening and Michael Hall maintain a variety of compost heaps around the garden.  They have two old fashioned wooden greenhouses, three polytunnels, and the original Victorian propagation houses.  They’ve also just recently installed a new flow form which is used to improve the irrigation water for the seedlings, and to make nettle, comfrey and compost teas.

Because Michael Hall School, as well as supplying us with some of our wonderful produce, is also a Steiner school, part of the garden is entirely set aside for gardening teaching. There is a gardening classroom, the children’s propagation house, a bread baking oven, and tools for garden and woodland crafts.   Children have their garden beds there and it is where their gardening lessons take place.  In winter, they roam beyond the garden into the rest of the Michael Hall estate to learn about woodland management. What a fabulous way of learning!

The aim of Michael Hall School is to combine beauty in the garden with growing an abundance of good biodynamic vegetables for the school canteen, the garden shop and the local community.

We’d like to thank Laurie, the gardner responsible for providing us with beautiful produce that we can then pass on to you. At the moment, we have perpetual spinach, rainbow chard and lettuces from them. You can buy them online and have them delivered to you for free here.

 

Our New Website & Online Ordering are Here!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

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We’ve just launched our new website – complete with online ordering! It’s never been easier to get organic, fresh produce grown by local independent farmers delivered directly to your door!  With this in mind, it’s time to talk about your overall health and wellbeing….

It can sometimes feel quite overwhelming to really invest in your own health and adopt positive life changes, especially when it comes to changing your eating habits. It’s an investment well worth taking though – what you eat directly impacts how you feel, both in your body and in your mind. You wouldn’t fill a car with dirty petrol, so why fuel your own body with anything other than the cleanest and most natural of foods? Up until the beginning of the 20th century, good diet and physical well-being was the foundation of all medical treatment. Unfortunately, overtime, this basic knowledge that our ancestors had acquired about the importance of the nutritional benefits in the foods that were available to them.

We at Greener Greens think that it’s about time that we rediscover what our ancestors once knew and reconnected with our food. Our seasonal boxes contain the fresh produce that your body needs to maintain its health and vitality and is free from chemicals. Trust in nature! It knows best when it comes to growing our food. According to the changing seasons, our bodies need different nutrients to maintain great health. Nature has provided a range of produce that contains exactly what we need to ensure that we’re at our best all year round – both in our bodies and our minds.

Greener Greens offers a quality organic range of fruit and vegetables, grown by certified organic, independent growers, delivered to your door every week. Your first steps towards being healthy and making a positive lifestyle choice starts here!

Visit our website and make your first order today!