What happens if I am out when my order is delivered?

Our delivery drivers will always try to find a suitable place to leave your order. Ideally you could leave out a box or give instructions to leave in an outhouse or around the back. We have been known to leave an order in a tree house.

How do I cancel when I go on holiday?
Simply phone 9185 3122 or email us - organics2u@f2s.com with stop/start details. We do check our answer phone regularly. Ideally please give 24 hours notice.

How do I pay?
Our veg and fruit scheme is a weekly or fortnightly standing order with you advising us of changes. We offer a variety of ways to pay including cash, cheque, standing order, or bank transfer. You choose which suits you best and let us know.

Can I get extras?
We are always happy to make up extra amounts of your favourite vegetables or fruit either weekly or as you order. See 'extras' on our how to order page.

Can I be sure it is organic?
We are licenced to EU organic standards and have to pay a fee to be inspected annually. In fact we have two licences - one for growing the produce and the other for packing. An audit trail on everything we supply has to be kept and we are subject annually to a spot check on this audit trail. We are committed to organic production techniques and only buy from farms and our wholesaler who are similarly licenced.

Are the eggs free range?
Animal welfare is one of the cornerstones of organic standards. All the hens producing our eggs are free range and fed with organic meal.

Why are vegetables delivered in nets?
Our reusable nets cost 12p while a box would cost £2. Our nets are washable, recyclable, and good for 10 to 20 re-uses. A cardboard box might only last 4 to 5 times at most. It is simply a matter of cost which in our experience matters to most of our customers. It is a responsible disposal solution to our packaging needs. We constantly monitor this and are always seeking to improve what we do.

Why do we use plastic bags?
We use plastic only when necessary because some vegetables will lose their water content and wilt very quickly and so need to be wrapped for transport. It is a fact that plastic has a lower carbon footprint and energy demand to produce than paper or waxed papers by a factor of 1 to 3. However it is the disposal of plastic that represents the risk to the environment. We recycle all our plastic and cardboard waste so we ask you please do the same. Biodegradable plastic still poses a problem because of the chemicals used in the production process. We look forward to a solution to this problem. We hope that when our type of market garden becomes the norm and as such will feed the immediate local community then collecting your veg and fruit and wrapping the perishables in a damp cloth will be the answer. In the meanwhile we still use considerably less packaging than the multiple supermarkets.

How local is our produce?
Between our farm in Helen’s Bay, Roy Lyttle’s in Newtownards, Culmore Organic Farm in Kilrea, and Orchard Organics in Armagh we supply about 65% of all the vegetables we distribute over the year. About 10% comes from farms in England and the balance through a Dutch organic certified wholesaler. Our aim is to chip away at this import figure to reach 75% local. But the reality is we have to import some produce - especially in the traditional hungry months of May and June. We have yet to persuade any Northern Ireland fruit producer to go organic. This will come when there is more demand. We planted 20 of our own fruit trees in 2011 and we are planning to plant more. All our eggs are produced in Northern Ireland. We even have an arrangement that the hens’ manure is part of our fertility building program for our land - further closing the gap. We recently celebrated our 21st birthday and calculated that if we placed all the leeks we have grown in twenty one years end to end they would stretch from Belfast to Kilkeel and their retail value is equivalent to a full time job for one person for 10 years. Local produce producing local employment supporting the local economy!

What is our connection to Root and Branch Organic?
While financially independent we support each other in promoting and delivering the benefits of organic food - better for us and the environment - and of course it tastes great.

 

  We live in a beautiful world at a time of rapid human population growth, species extinction, climate change, and resource depletion. Some will argue that these phenomena are not at all connected. I suspect that vested interests have influenced this view because it's not rocket science to see the connections. However the human success story (for some of us) does not have to be a downward spiral for the biosphere in which we live and ultimately a downward spiral for mankind. We need to redesign human activity to work with nature rather than against it. This might seem an impossible task - given the scale of the problems and political ineptitude to do much about them. But I am reminded of the quote from E. F. Schumacher the economist and author of 'Small is Beautiful' - "an ounce of action is worth more than a ton of ideas". It is up to us individually to address these problems in ways that we can.
  Food is a requirement for all life. We have learnt enough science to understand that the current model of chemistry-dominated agriculture - reliant on external chemical inputs to grow food - is not sustainable and that we need to reintegrate our understanding of the biological sciences. We know we can produce food from safe biologically living soils by feeding earthworms, soil fauna, and the millions of other living organisms in the soil and by growing nitrogen fixing plants which use sunlight through photosynthesis to build fertility. This in turn locks up carbon in the resulting soil humus. And when properly managed such soils can be exploited to grow food avoiding the use of nearly all pesticides.
  Of course using earthworms to save the planet might sound like a barmy idea but is it any more barmy than employing huge poisonous chemical factories to grow our food?

 

  As for the argument about not having sufficient food to feed all it is apparent that hunger is not a consequence of food scarcity but rather the result of injustice, war, and inequalities. Good governance, education, and economic opportunity would go a long way to eliminate hunger.
  Organic agriculture while not perfect is trying to be part of the solution. Choosing food according how it is being produced is being part of the change you want to see.
John McCormick.

Organic food and farming:
Expensive? No, because it tries not to cost the earth.
Unrealistic? No, it can feed everyone in the world and be sustainable for future generations.
Anti science? No, it's just science on tap not on top. It's Ecological science.
Not much better for you? It's not just about you. It's about the health of all including the soil microbes, wildlife, and biodiversity on which our lives depend.
Elitist? No, organic agriculture is characterised by fairness, respect, justice, and stewardship. 
Rather than being a middle class, hippy, elitist occupation it is an ecological, social, political, economic, spiritual, and agricultural resistance movement to a culture hell bent on personal profit and environmental destruction.
Colette Haynes 2013

 
Helen's Bay Organic Gardens, Coastguard Ave, Helens's Bay, Co. Down, N. Ireland BT19 1JY      Tel +44 28 9185 3122     organics2u@f2s.com