Interview: Meet The Apple Box in Victoria BC

Interview: Meet The Apple Box in Victoria BC
Photo Attribution: 
Stephanie Deline & The Apple Box

BG: How did The Apple Box become to be?

AB: In 2013, I was a stay at home mom with 2 toddlers, and was faced with the very day challenge of Healthy Eating. Either I'd spend hours in the kitchen daily OR be at the mercy of 'convenient' less-than-healthy options. Enough was enough and The Apple Box concept was born - Frozen convenient meals made with Local Regional Ingredients.

BG: What is your food philosophy?

AB: Hyper LOCAL is the only way to go. It literally pains me to grocery shop in local chain stores, knowing the amount of produce, meats, beans, nuts, flours are available here in our Region.

BG: How long have you owned your businesses?

AB: 3 Years in April 2016

BG: Tell us about your Menu Options?

AB: Our menu changes as often as Victoria's weather! We create comfort meals with a modern local twist. Our options include, gluten wise, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian and always hormone-free ethical meats!

BG: Supporting Community is important for The Apple Box, how does The Apple Box work together with our local community?

AB: Supporting our Local Farms in order to create a strong & abundant regional food security for our future is top priority!
Supporting fellow small food businesses is our passion. We opened the doors to The Farmers' City Market in July 2015 in Fan Tan Alley. This is a collectively owned & operated shop & business. 15 Small local food producers working together! Their products are available at both locations and will be available throughout the city very soon. They gain 100% profit from every sale! We are restructuring the wholesale to retail routine. We also started an initiative this year called 'Freedom Food' - a section at both our shops in Fan Tan Alley and Cook Street offer FREE Local organic Produce! Access for ALL!

BG: What was the inspiration for opening your businesses?

AB: Quite simply - A true need for my family. I created a business that I needed myself. Healthy Easy Meals.

BG: What inspired you to start the healthy frozen and gluten wise meals?

AB: For me, a huge benefit to our particular food company is the zero waste issue. In most traditional 'restaurants' the amount of food and packaging waste at the end of the day is astronomical. At The Apple Box, we use ingredients that were literally picked that morning, cook our delicious recipes - create 2000+ meals a week - freeze them. We are left with 1/2 bag of trash by the end of the week. Our recycling is limited as well as our recipes are all whole foods: fruit, vegetables and meats. Our compost is taken weekly by Bruce, a hobby framer in cobble hill. In turn, he brings us flavorful garlic from his farm!!!

BG: Where do you source your food from?

AB: As many different local farms in our region as possible: Longview Farm, Haliburton organic farm, Guites Farm, Merry Elk Farm, Dans Farm, Michells Farm, Galey Farm are among some of our amazing producers.

BG: Where did you gals start the first The Apple Box?

AB: We started at the Vic West Community Center shared kitchen for 1 year. We built a small clientele and recipe formulation (there is a science to frozen meals). Exactly 1 year later, April 1 2014 we opened the doors to our very own custom built commercial kitchen and retail shop on Cook Street.

BG: How important is it to recognize loyal customers?

AB: SO important! Every person that walks though our doors is valued. We have an amazing opportunity to help so any people with their busy lives. Either they are a new family with no time, or they are busy working, or physically active and needing healthy options, OR have allergies and special needs that are more difficult to prepare. We have a food box program that gives a significant discount on our menu options. We pass this savings along as you prepay and invest in us to prepare your meals for 4 weeks! We have many customers that found us 3 years ago that we see weekly! Our Christmas card list is really adding up ;)

BG: What community events or charities to you support or sponsor?

AB: We have our own initiatives that we support. 'Freedom Food' provides access to our local farms for EVERYONE! No questions, ifs and or buts. You need 1 pound of potatoes to help with your meal tonight? Please help yourself. Our latest endeavor to gain momentum and funds to provide 'freedom food' is our Breakfast in Bed Campaign. You order our Saturday Breakfast delivery service online. $20 per meal includes 1 large farm fresh breakfast wrap + Fruit Salad + Fresh coffee poured into your mug. That $20 goes directly into our 'freedom food' fund: providing cases of local organic fruits & vegetables to our local schools in need.

BG: We also pass along food boxes to families in need quite often. I have a revolving list of friends, neighbors and strangers that people email me regarding people that could use an extra hand. Not just on Christmas Day, but any day - a Tuesday. We live in an exceptionally beautiful city and island, but we pay the cost in housing and FOOD costs. I know how hard it is living pay cheque to pay cheque and I feel lucky to have a business that can provide a break for people.

AB: How do people find you? Do you have a website?

BG: Yes we sure do (we try and keep our menu as updated as possible, but our products sell out so fast its hard for it to be 100% accurate). Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with our daily news!

BG: How is your business sustainable?

AB: In every way possible! Our menu is based completely on what is in season here in Victoria. The more we purchase regularly from our local farms, the more they will continue to grow themselves. Our business plans are INCLUSIVE of many other local food business. Working together JUST WORKS!

BG: What makes your business unique?

AB: Our main focus is to be LOCAL, GREEN, SUSTAINABLE & INCLUSIVE! We have a fun atmosphere in our shop which has an indoor farm stand feel. We add a lot of pride and effort into all of our products and customer service & are so happy to be part of the Local Food Movement here in Victoria!

BG: What are your future plans for The Apple Box?

AB: My next step is grass roots 'franchising'. Anywhere there is a collection of small local farms, there should be an Apple Box making prepared meals! Vancouver, Cowichan & Salt Spring Island are my targets to start. Its been a Fun, yet busy road to get to where we are business wise today. I'd love to assist others to do what we are doing and take off from where we are now is a massive advantage. I own & operate this lovely small business, while raising my 3 children (2, 5 +6 years old). It's my dream to start others on the same path. It can be done!!!


Good Books

Publisher: Big Ideas Publishing
List price: CDN$ 29.95