Castleton mum-of-two is tackling plastic waste, food waste and making it easier to eat better with new indie business Rochdale Veg Boxes

Date published: 24 August 2021

A Castleton mum-of-two has made it her mission to reduce plastic waste, fight food waste AND get the borough eating better with the launch of her independent fruit and vegetable box delivery service.

Su Bond launched Rochdale Veg Boxes during the summer after she lost her previous job due to Covid-19. Struggling to find a new role which allowed part-time and flexible working to fit around family life, Su, who has two little boys, eventually bit the bullet to start her own business.

“I came up with the idea of selling veg boxes because I was trying to buy one myself and just not finding what I was looking for. I just wanted a box of really fresh produce without so much packaging. I was sick of throwing rotten supermarket fruit and veg in the bin before we had eaten it,” Su explained.

Su began selling boxes in mid-July, covering the whole of Rochdale as well as Middleton, Royton and Chadderton. Whilst she has around 55 customers – including regulars – she has been contacted by families in Saddleworth and Prestwich asking for a box, similarly unable to find such a service.


One of the produce boxes from Rochdale Veg Boxes


“We are thinking about how we can grow beyond our current area, but I think we still have a big opportunity to help people in Rochdale reduce their food and packaging waste and eat some great food,” Su added.

She continued: “The amount of plastic on our fresh food was bothering the family too. The amount of plastic in the packaging of all products we use is so high and we are all starting to become more aware of the impact this has on the environment.

“We had already started making some switches to packaging free products where we can throughout our home, or reusable items instead of disposable, and we are really cutting back on our plastic consumption. So shopping for packaging free food was the next step for us but I couldn’t find anywhere doing this. Whilst there are a lot of refillaries popping up for dry goods like pasta and rice, nobody is challenging how the fresh produce was being sold.”

Su also has coeliac diasese, an autoimmune disease where eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, causes the lining of the small intestine to become damaged. Even the smallest amount of gluten from cross contamination can make someone who is coeliac violently ill, so Su found herself “drastically” changing her diet after she was diagnosed four years ago. As a result, she eats lots of vegetables due to her dietary restrictions.

“I found myself eating lots of home-cooked food and eating lots of fresh produce, and my health has really improved. I have since cut out meat and dairy which my family still eat. My diabetes score is under control, my cholesterol is really low and a couple of skin condition I had have gone too.”

Rochdale Veg Boxes’ suppliers are mostly based in Rochdale, and Su delivers her fruit and veg boxes the same day she receives produce, so that it remains fresher for longer.

She continued: “I mostly source from a Rochdale-based supplier, so we are supporting another local business, which I just love.

“They are really environmentally conscious and work with UK farms to get UK grown produce where they can. Obviously a lot of fruit comes from other countries, but we always choose UK grown where we can.

“They bring the produce in from the farms and then often that produce is straight out to me the same morning. We then deliver it to our customers the day it’s delivered to us, so it’s really fresh.

“I also love their packaging. Most produce is delivered into them in cardboard crates (which we use to deliver back out to our customers) or often produce comes loose in reusable crates which I just send back to be reused by them again.

“Even their berries come to me in a cardboard punnet with just a film lid, so they are really packaging aware and are sourcing from farms who are changing their packaging to be more eco-friendly.

“I’m still struggling to find a naked cucumber though!”


A larger one of the veg boxes


Su continued: “I do feel like I am making a real difference on the environment and I love helping other people to do the same.

“I want to make it simple so customers can make a difference without a lot of effort; people do want to do good things for the environment but sometimes it’s so difficult to know how you can make a change so we want to make it easier.

“If the household side takes off, I’d love to grow that too and have a little electric van to deliver a range of locally sourced or eco-friendly produce to doorsteps throughout the borough.”

A variety of boxes are available at the moment – including mini, large, fruit only, and vegetables and salad only – with plans for organic and ‘build your own’ in the works. Rochdale Veg Boxes also offers several eco-friendly household items, which can be delivered alongside your produce.

Su added: “Personally, when I shop, there are four things really important to me – I want to eat great food, I want to reduce food waste, I want to eat food that is environmentally conscious and I want it to be convenient.

“These are the four things I hope Rochdale Veg Boxes delivers to our customers.”

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