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Monday, December 12, 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? 

12 comments:

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

OH, I really love those stalls where payment is based on the honor system. That's really neat ;) :) We have some of those here in my area of California. Greetings from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

Pat aka Posh said...

Nothing like that here.. sure wish there was.

africanaussie said...

We have a pineapple farm on our corner and there is a box all season long with a box of pineapples for 2.00 each, and a little glass jar to put your money in. I just adore picking up a pineapple on my way home from work.

Christina said...

I'm a fan too. When we drive to Byron, Canungra or Maleney, we see many along the way and I love coming home from a day trip with fresh produce. Locally we buy our manure and mushroom compost from farms with honesty boxes by their gates.

Frugal Down Under said...

Yes, bags of horse poo. Only $1 for a huge bag. So I got 4. Bargain.

Laura Jeanne said...

We have lots of those stands in my area of Southern Ontario. Although what the stands contain is quite different--the most common things to see are tomatoes and cucumbers, and also peppers, strawberries, sweet corn, raspberries, peaches, potatoes, and apples.

quinn said...

Roadside stands are common in my area, I am happy to say! I stop at several for different types of produce, because I like to spread my little bit of purchasing power around. I only see the farmers occasionally, except one stand which is "staffed" by family.

Some stands have metal boxes with a lock, and a slot to drop your money through. Some are more the cigar-box type, with coins and dollar bills (weighed down with a stone, usually) inside.

An organic stand that used to be one of my favorites had a note inside the box last year, shouting: NO PENNIES. This left me with mixed feelings...don't know that I've ever left pennies in that box, but I also don't think it's fair to tell customers who may have come out of their way for a couple of tomatoes or a pound of beans that their pennies aren't welcome. Makes me sad.

rhonda jean said...

Oh yes, like your area, we have a lot of honesty box stalls. We even buy our milk at the dairy this way. The milk fridge is in the shed, prices on the door, the money goes in the honesty box. I love it and like you it makes me feel connected to my community.
Great post, Megan, thank you.

Jessica said...

How cool! Sadly, I don't think that would never fly in America... People would end up stealing them or dumping the potatoes all over the ground as a "joke".

Anna said...

Happens all the time in Pennsylvania Dutch country! I've gotten honey, flowers, corn...all sorts of things!

jay said...

Perhaps some of the best strawberries I've ever tasted were picked up at a roadside stall in NZ with an honesty box. Love it!

Anonymous said...

i live just a little south to you and we often buy from roadside honesty box stalls in our area! it's delicious and fresh and local...
the best area for this i've seen in australia is bundaberg qld... amazing stalls up there and beautiful food they grow as well!