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Liverpool’s greengrocer on wheels set to almost double its affordable fruit & veg stops

2 months ago

Liverpool’s greengrocer on wheels set to almost double its affordable fruit & veg stops

A greengrocer’s shop on wheels which brings affordable fruit and vegetables to communities in Liverpool and Knowsley is set to almost double its number of stops.

The Queen of Greens bus, which is run by Feeding Liverpool and Alchemic Kitchen, has been a huge success since it launched in November 2022.

It takes fresh produce to areas that have been pinpointed as ‘food deserts’ where access to good food is limited and food insecurity is high.

Now with additional funding from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, it’s about to increase its route from 23 stops to 40 within the next couple of weeks.

It means Queen of Greens will be able to reach hundreds more families or single people who might otherwise not be able to get affordable fresh fruit and veg either because of the cost or the distance to their nearest supermarket.

Elena Vacca, project manager, says the scheme has already made a big difference, not just to those who are struggling but to anyone who appreciates the convenience of having a greengrocer’s on their doorstep.

Green Grocer The Queen of Greens - Knowsley - The guide Liverpool

“Anyone can get on our bus, there are no restrictions about who can use it, so although we do reach a lot of families we stop off at primary schools, children’s centres and Alder Hey and Aintree hospitals as well so we have staff and teachers who use it too.

“We also partnered with Liverpool University on its Feelgood February event to deliver fruit and veg bags for students and we’re planning to add a stop outside the uni when we expand.

“It’s about making healthier fresh food eating more available, physically and financially, because we feel that everyone deserves to have access to good food and the response we’ve had has been fantastic.” 

Greengrocer Paul Flannery heads to Liverpool’s wholesale market in the early hours every morning and stocks up the bus for its daily route.

He then gets behind the wheel to take it on the road, stopping off in areas including Everton, Anfield, Garston and parts of Knowsley.

Paul

He doesn’t just sell the produce, he uses around 40 years experience in the fruit & veg business to offer tips and encourage shoppers to discover different varieties.

“Paul is great with customers,” says Elena. “If they get on the bus and they’ve never tried a particular fruit or veg before, he’ll open it up and let them have a taste. We also share recipe ideas so people know how best to cook something once they get it home. 

“He goes to the wholesale market every day at 5am, so instead of a shop marked-up price, we can sell it on at wholesale price and a lot of it is sold loose so it cuts down on waste and packaging.

“Sometimes obviously the market price fluctuates depending on what’s in season, but by bringing it to people they don’t have to pay for transport, bus or taxi, so it keeps the cost right down.”

Queen of Greens key supporters are Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool City Council, Torus Foundation and the Life Rooms.

New funding means they’ll be not only able to add lots of extra stops, going into areas including Norris Green, Vauxhall and Croxteth, they can also get a second bus and greengrocer so it will extend the service’s timetable.

“At the moment we can only run until about 1.30pm because Paul starts at 5am,” explains Elena, “but with the extra funding we can now launch in the afternoon so when families are picking up kids from school we can stop there and they can get what they need at the same time.”

To find out where the Queen of Greens bus stops and when, go to the website HERE.

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