Suffolk farmers sell their eggs, milk, butter and even cuts of meat from specially designed vending machines. County farms are installing automated egg racks and fresh produce vending machines so people can buy directly from their local farmer.
They are designed to work like any other vending machine: you grab the item you want, you pay; often cash, card or contactless, then you receive your goods. Many of them look like a shed full of numbered metal lockers, only with a glass front so you can inspect what’s inside.
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When paying, the doors give an audible warning and open to let you take out your goods – meaning if you’re not sharp enough and let the door close, you could end up paying twice. Many more people here in Suffolk are thinking about the impact of their shopping habits and sustainability.
For decades, foods labeled with phrases such as “organic”, “locally grown” or “homemade” have always been considered better, but come at a price to match, making them simply unaffordable for many.
But being able to buy direct from your local farm means you don’t pay the supermarket markup or travel costs, it’s much better for the environment and helps support a local business rather than a chain national. Another benefit is that getting your eggs direct from your local farm means you can also see how happy the chickens are to roam free in the fields. Which helps soothe those feelings that vegans might be right and that it’s cruel to eat animal products.
Many people care enough about sustainability and animal welfare to buy their eggs from a vending machine, but not enough to stop eating eggs altogether. Very rural households likely buy their eggs from honesty boxes belonging to neighbors who have owned pet chickens for decades.
For the rest of us, these vending machines popping up in Suffolk mean we can proudly serve up a carbonara topped with a fresh egg from the end of the road – and smugly tell all our diners that we know exactly from where he comes from. If you keep your egg cartons from the supermarket, you can also show up at the vending machine with your own containers and reuse them time after time.
Four Suffolk farms with egg vending machines:
- Blacksmiths Meadow Egg Vending, Combs Lane, Stowmarket
- Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, Whitegate Farm, St Mary’s Creeting
- The Egg Shed, Church Farm, Occold
- Gate Farm Eggs, Gate Farm, Flowton
This article was originally published when our site launched in 2021, but has since been updated with new links.