Monday, 12 December 2011

In Praise of the Honesty Box

By Megan @ The Byron Life

Each week I drive along winding country roads to get somewhere or other: school, work, friends, appointments, etc. I have set routes for my usual drives, but my work as a regional news reporter also sees me travelling down a variety of different roads each week, depending on where the story takes me.  I love the discoveries I make along our country roads... especially of the edible variety.

Living in a region with rich soil and a near-perfect growing climate means I can be guaranteed that along the way there will be a roadside stall selling seasonal produce the old-fashioned “honesty box” way.

I’m sure you all know the honesty box (although it may be called something different in your area). It is the system whereby farmers and property owners leave out excess produce for sale, relying on the passing consumer to pay for the goods by dropping money in a tin. There is nobody supervising the transaction, so it is up to the consumer to be “honest” with their payment.

There is something delightfully simple about an honesty box purchase. Firstly, I know the produce is locally grown and secondly, my money is going direct to the grower, and often this also means the prices are very reasonable.  And there is the surprise element to what I might find at an honesty box stall; what is in season and unique to that grower and their property. It’s such a different, albeit random, experience from buying pre-packaged goods from a supermarket.   

Among the produce I’ve seen, and bought, from local roadside stalls with honesty boxes are: avocados, ground coffee, bananas, lemons, stone fruit, potatoes, macadamia nuts, honey, pawpaw, cut flowers, herbs... the list could go on and on. I’ve even bought bags of pine cones for a winter fire and sugarcane mulch for my garden through the honesty-box system.

What I love most is the sense of community inherent in the honesty-box system. When I pull over and select locally grown fruit, vegetables, nuts or coffee, it feels good to hear my coins drop into the tin, knowing I am contributing to my local community, and being nourished in return.  As well as the treasure I have just found by the side of the road, I feel grateful for the trust and generosity shown by the appearance of an honesty box stall.  

Pictured  above is a newly discovered stall selling potatoes. The field they have grown in is just 500metres away. At $3 per 2kg bag, it works out to be $1.50kg, which is a good price around here for locally grown potatoes. What’s more, they tasted fantastic! We baked some up last night.

Even if I do not stop and buy something from a roadside stall, just the sight of them makes me feel happy and reassured that the buy-local concept is so established here.

How about you? Have you dropped a coin or two in an honesty box of late?