Produce Warriors

We travelled into deepest Oxfordshire to spend some time with fruit and veg aficionado – and all-round romantic – Mike Hirons, who lives by the adage: “Eat vegetables, kiss often, tell everyone you love them!” Managing Director of the passionate Produce Warriors, Mike and his band of warriors source and supply quality fresh produce in and around Oxfordshire.

Clearly very close to Mike’s heart, the idea of ‘local supply’ is “the business foundation; Produce Warriors was opened three-and-a-half years ago and the premise of it is about being a family business. Over 93% of my costs are spent locally, within about 15 miles of my depot. So, it’s not only about product; it’s ingrained in me that it’s so important that if you spend your money locally, it’s just good, sensible practice. The question is more, ‘why don’t other people do it?'”

The variety in the local businesses they work with is evident as we spend the day hopping between a selection of their growers, from Truleaf, to Forge Farm, and finally, to Blackdown Growers. Each business we visit gives a view into a different facet of the rich supply of local growers available to Produce Warriors and, asked how they select those they work with, Mike tells us simply, “If there are local growers that are good quality producers then we will try and work with them. As much as we find them, they find us.” And who wouldn’t want to work with them, when their “guiding light is always quality and service”?

Passion for their trade runs throughout the team… And where did it come from? “It’s customers at the end of the day. I’ve got the best job in the world,” Mike laughs, “I do pretty much what I want day in and day out; we could be picking goods, having price negotiations, looking at reviews, looking for quality, looking for new suppliers – it’s difficult not to have passion! If you’ve got such a varied job, yes it is only fruit and veg, but there’s so many facets to it and I’m lucky enough to be the man who can do what he wants!”

And when he’s not working his dream job, what does he cook up at home? Mike jokes, “I’m such an accomplished chef it’s difficult to tell you, I’ve got a plethora of dishes that I cook… basically, that’s chicken tarragon and stew and dumplings, that’s it! They’re my staples that I always go to.”