Skye Food Link Van

Roger Whiddon – Guest Speaker

Introduction

Roger is a horticulturist and experienced grower of vegetables. Relocated to Skye with his wife with the aim of growing / distributing for the local market in a 1000sq meter polytunnel which is run as a full time business. Market research led them to grow culinary herbs and have subsequently diversified into salad leaves.

Initially Roger and his wife distributed their own products across Skye and Lochalsh but found this unsustainable.

The Van Idea

In the beginning this was a ‘man with a van’ distributing to scattered producers and consumers. When the van was found to be too small, a grant was secured to buy a van through a Community Interest Company (CIC) that was set up. The van lasted 10-12 years and when it was no longer serviceable, the organisation moved to leasing a vehicle.

How it works

Food distribution was organised by the driver with producers and consumers becoming members of the organisation for a membership fee. This made a significant contribution to the cost. The organisation has a hands-on Board of Directors and in the early days there was a coordinator working for the organisation.

The products carried include: mussels, smoked salmon, salad leaves, sea salt, coffee roasted locally. In the past they have had dressed crabs, dairy including cheese and yoghurt. There is interest currently from a lamb producer.

Producers / consumers speak direct to the driver with orders taken on a Monday and Thursday. The producer gives the driver a list outlining the content of each delivery. Trade is mostly business to business but it is possible to drop off to private individuals or to collection points.

Logistics and costs

The non refrigerated van goes out 2 times a week on a Tuesday and Friday. Produce is kept in polystyrene boxes and wrapped, with the boxes being reused. The van is kept on for the season and covers around 200 miles per trip.

Expenses: Fuel, van hire, insurance, driver and administration overhead.

Income: Membership is £50 + VAT per year, currently made up of around 10 producers and 40 consumers. Producers pay a 10% levy on the value of the produce carried.