Managing the larder is more complicated than you think it is, but this actually makes it easier to run and give users more choice. Nathan Bushell explains.
I wasn’t sure how to approach this month’s appraisal of the Teign Valley Larder. I’m sure that most people reading this will have a good idea why it was established, and how they can contribute to its ongoing success simply by using it.
However, it has become clear that we’ve done quite a good job of hiding the complex machinery that keeps it running.
So, we thought that needs remedying. Our thinking is that the more that is known about it, the more people will have confidence using it.
On the morning that I wrote this piece, I took my son and the dog on a walk around village, picking up the donations from Christow Stores on the way. Kay had worked hard to open up her shop again, so that customers no longer had to queue outside, but she had still found space on one of her shelves for donated items, including the wonderful banana loaves, apple crumble and eggs from a mystery supplier in Dunsford.
With these stowed in my backpack, I walked through the village to a lock-up where everything is stored before being delivered to the sites in St James’s Church, Ashton, Doddi, Dunsford and Bridford.
I had to wait while someone was already in there (literally) taking stock – she was running through a list that she had made. She kindly let me push in front of her to drop off the items and fill out a delivery sheet.
My son was curious as to why I wasn’t taking the items straight to the church (he likes the larder – he sometimes picks up fruit while he’s walking the dog). I tried explaining the finer points of a hub and spoke distribution network, but he started glazing over.
But it did make me think about the complex nature of the system. Maybe it would be easier if there was just one outlet, but the larder wouldn’t be nearly as successful, as we may not get the delicious cakes from Dunsford. A central distribution point also allows us to efficiently deliver all the donations we get from the local farms (Whippletree Farm, Teign Greens, and Windout Farm), and manage the generous donations from individuals and businesses.
I sit on a board with eight other members, and each of us have different roles to play: accounting, managing food waste, liaising with volunteers, stock control, writing these articles, etc. When we discuss how to improve what we do, we all share the same values of helping those in need, reducing food waste, and putting the community first.
Furthermore, there are well over 20 people involved in the day-to-day running and managing the larder. All volunteers, and all who share those same sentiments.
When you use the larder – for whatever reason – you are investing in those complex procedures and putting your community first. Without you, it wouldn’t work at all.