PIPPA Crane’s passion for fruit, vegetables and herbs, led her to open a new shop specialising in fresh, seasonal and local produce.

The Veg Box, in Lonsdale Road, Southend, opened in December and, thanks to the Christmas rush, has already done a roaring trade.

It was an organic journey which brought Pippa to her current business position.

After an eclectic job history in signwriting, working on narrowboats, floristry and at Waitrose, Pippa began selling herbs via a delivery service, attending farmers’ markets, and promoting her wares online.

The business took off and she slowly began introducing goods made or grown by friends she met at the farmers’ markets, such as locally-produced honey and aromatherpy products.

Pippa, 51, explains: “I decided to start delivering fresh, local and seasonal produce via different veg boxes, either created by myself or requested by the customer.”

After 20 regular customers were secured, Pippa realised she would need other premises as the stock was too much for her tiny kitchen.

She says: “I knew of the shop in Lonsdale Road, which I had always walked by and I loved, but didn’t think I could afford it.”

But after discovering it was available and affordable, she went for it.

Pippa says: “People have been so welcoming and thrilled to have a greengrocers there. It used to be a little village in that area and full of shops, but now there is hardly anything. It is a shame.

“But there is a real sense of community spirit and I really feel as if I’ve come home – I just love it.”

The shop is about to introduce spices, recipe cards, oils and more “wild and wacky veg”.

For more information, visit www.theessexherbcompany.co.uk or call 01702 322777 / 07793 317207.