On The Road – Vignettes from China & Mongolia

Sam Rye, our Community Connector, writes from the road…


As you may know, currently I’m roving in Europe and will be heading for North America in October, and I’m looking forward to meeting interesting local producers and distributors along the way, looking at hubs of local food, and running some workshops.


However, I’ve always been intrigued by the land between where I was born (England), and where I now live (New Zealand).  It’s a huge swathe of the world’s crust which I have, too often, flown over – so I figured it was time to see what was in between.  I decided to travel overland with my lovely wife, back to England, via China, Mongolia, Russia and Austria.


I wasn’t surprised by China’s seemingly decentralised food system – a network of small grocers and entrepreneurial producers and distributors.  It stems (I was reading in National Geographic) from the fact that the last 40 years saw drastic and radical changes after the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61. Combined with a huge uptake of chemical fertilisers, reduced control by the ruling party and advancements in technology – China now has a food waste problem.


Here’s a couple of vignettes from my travels…


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From the Steppe of Mongolia


I may not’ve been so surprised by China’s food system – a complex web of producers and distributors in the many cities, but I sure was surprised when I got to Mongolia.


Apparently much of Mongolia (population 2.8 million) is not suitable for agriculture. It seems strange as you roll through the huge wide open grassland areas, where nomadic people still graze cattle, yaks, goats & sheep.  However there’s an extreme climate, long winter, and low rainfall. Apparently there’s only around 100 days of the growing season.


Much of Mongolia’s fresh food is imported from China, but I saw potatoes and wheat being grown on the Steppe, as well as cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers / capsicums being grown in hot houses.  It seems to be a country curiously poised with little to no food security, and a huge amount of land.  Perhaps some huge opportunities for sustainable urban agriculture in the capital – Ulaanbatar?


Here’s a few pictures from my travels in Mongolia…


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See you on the other side with some pictures from Russia & Austria, before blogging from the UK & France.



The Local Food Startup Challenge is CLOSED

In February, we launched the Local Food Startup Challenge, along with a Startup Fund for half a million dollars worth of software licenses. The challenge is now over, and we’re totting up the totals, and will be announcing the winners soon.  Stay tuned!


Local Food Startup Challenge Complete



Check out this infographic with a quick overview of what the Startup Challenge catalysed for new food distribution businesses around the world!



Social Enterprise Week is coming to New Zealand

We’re delighted to say Social Enterprise Week is about to happen in Wellington, New Zealand.


Social Enterprise Week New Zealand



This awesome series of events is up and running and tickets are available here.


You should also listen to this great in-depth interview on Radio New Zealand from the weekend which features our friends Enspiral, Loomio, Chalkle and ourselves:



Powering Local Food

Bucky Box - powering local food

The Bucky Box team are committed to using our energy on the most important challenge of our lifetimes.



There’s no shortage of projects, initiatives and causes where you could focus your energy these days – everywhere you look there’s industrial age systems and institutions which are crumbling.


In the 20th century we saw a huge focus on food production as a key to food utopia for all. With a growing population (4.4 billion to 6.1 billion between 1980-2000), some would say that was rather wise. Whilst we’ve boomed to 7 billion people and are forecast to hit 9-10 billion by 2020, we have to ask – at what cost has that focus on production had?


The existing food distribution infrastructure is incompatible with what we now know about the ecological and societal limits of agriculture – it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do something about it – that’s why we’re committed to powering the future of food.


We see food distribution as an acupuncture point in the food system – use the needle correctly and it can release a build up of pressure. Bucky Box is that needle – it’s a tool for entrepreneurs, community activators, and ethical businesses who are creating a better food system through local food enterprise.


We see building software for local food distributors to crush the admin burden as incredibly important – with only a small amount of talking to people running direct-to-customer delivery businesses, you’ll soon start hearing horror stories about hacked together IT systems and death-by-spreadsheet. Taking a hammer to this glass ceiling for local food enterprise is our aim.


Bucky Box - Powering Local Food


How does Bucky Box help with all this?


Sell Your Food

Customise and launch your online store in minutes and never drop a sale. An online store that syncs directly with your admin dashboard so you don’t have to manually pull in all those pesky email order notifications from your shopping cart. Our online store is designed from the ground-up for food businesses to engage their customers.

Bucky Box - Online Store Shopping Cart - Local Food Software


Manage Customers

Take the pain out of customer management with our admin console. Get a customer snapshot any time with profiles, account balances and order statuses. Nurture loyal customers with newsletters and direct email straight from your database. Be open 24/7 – customers can manage their own orders online, whatever time of the day.

Bucky Box - Easy Customer Contact and Management for Vege Box Schemes CSA and Local Food enterprises


Fulfill Orders

Instantly know what needs to go where, and when. Take the heavy lifting out of packing day admin with one click reports. A drag & drop interface makes delivery route planning easy.

Packing and Delivery reporting for Local Food delivery businesses


Easy Payments
Save time and stop trying to manually match accounts with our bulk payment reconciliation of bank transactions, cash & cheques. Ensure account balances are up to date, and your customers are happy.

Bulk Payment Reconciliation for Food Delivery Businesses


Interested to hear more and get to work?

[button link=”http://www.buckybox.com” target=”_blank” color=”green” shape=”rounded” size=”large” align=”center”]Sign up for a demo[/button]



We just made customer engagement really easy

Customers are the lifeblood of all local food enterprises, and we’ve just made it a whole heap easier to keep them engaged.


Sending emails to individuals or groups with Bucky Box used to be a manual process requiring you to copy & paste into your email client.


We know you spend a lot of time communicating and engaging with your customers, so today we’ve launched some big changes to make running your local food enterprise easier.


Check it out:


Bucky Box Software For Local Food Customer Engagement Email


What does this mean for you?

This new feature enables you to tackle individual and bulk email head on; create newsletters, send out account reminders, and more:

  • – this is a tool for better customer engagement
  • – it will save you time switching between applications
  • – you can focus on the message you’re sending rather than how you’re going to send it


Here’s our top tips on how to use the new customer contact functionality:


1) Filter Your Customers – use the Search bar or click on tags to filter your customer list, and simply check all the tick boxes you want or select all. You’ll note the mail icon will pop up and you’ll have speedy access to create a ‘mail-merged’ email.


Filter Database - Email icon - CRM for Local Food


2) Create Templates – most food distributors will want to keep their customers engaged with some kind of regular email newsletter, and will often want to bulk-email a group of customers with information like account balances. To do this, you can create any number of templates for your choice of events – we’ve added 3 to get you started:

  • – Your account is overdue
  • – Using your login for ordering
  • – Weekly Newsletter – what’s in your box this week


Use or create email and newsletter templates like Mailchimp - Contact solution for local food business


Essentially, yes, we’ve brought you the power of email marketing from within Bucky Box. Neat huh?


Newsletter Templates - Software for Local Food



3) Powerful Email, not spam – using your own email account for email marketing is a bad idea as very quickly you can get yourself blacklisted by the spam filters for bulk emailing people. We’re using a well reputable email service which will mean you’re not overloading your own ‘send limits’ of your email server.


No Spam



4) Export Customer Contacts – if you’re already using a service like Mailchimp or Benchmark, then you’ll need to regularly export updated customer lists. We put this functionality at your finger tips with a dropdown from the mail icon. Simply select the customers you wish to have the details for and click “Export Customer Details” – et voila – the .csv spreadsheet export will download for you.


You can also click “View as email addresses” to get a plain text collection of the emails which you can copy and paste into your own email client such as Google Mail, Outlook or Hotmail.


Email Icon Dropdown - Export Customer Information - Software for CSA Vege Box Scheme


More in the pipeline…


We’re excited by this new feature, and we hope you like it too, but we’re not done yet. Not by a long shot. We’re planning some pretty awesome additional features to this section – so keep your eyes peeled.


Finally we thought you might like a quick start guide to Email Marketing to go with you new feature, so seeing as the team at Mailchimp are so good at this stuff, here’s their Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Plan.


create an email marketing plan


We’d love your thoughts, ideas and feedback – drop us a comment below.


Travels in Europe and North America

Calling: UK, Europe, NYC and Toronto

Black Cab - Bucky Box Travels

image courtesy of flickr/_Tophee_

We’re very excited to say that in a little over a month, we’re hitting the road to come to a town near you (hopefully!).


Sam, our Community Connector, will be travelling in UK, France, Austria, New York and hopefully Toronto, making time to stop in on local food distributors, entrepreneurs and hotspots of interesting local food systems.  Sam will be available to meet one-on-one, groups of local food distributors, speak at conferences, and run workshops on local food enterprise.


He’ll be in UK & Europe in August & September, then on into North America in September & October.


If you’d be keen to catch up with Sam, or put on an event, please drop us an email at sam [at] buckybox [dot] com or join one of our Google+ Events and tell us what you’re thinking!



  • Improvements in validating customer information at the Webstore, My Login, and Admin section
  • Phone numbers now have Mobile, Home and Work flavours
  • You can now control what information must be captured for a given customer (the controls are hidden so ask our team if you want to change the default settings for your business)