New Vegbox site for Kindling Trust

Vegbox People logo

Kindling Trust made a business decision to develop an organic veg box scheme, and after nearly two months of intensive development, we launched the shiny new Drupal 7 website in April 2015. The site is an intrinsic part of the business, providing a shop front, along with a customer relationship management system(CiviCRM), and a publicity machine. Boxes are paid for by monthly direct debit with GoCardless, which is a snip at 1% per transaction, compared with typically 3.5% + 20p per transaction for Paypal.

The project is a partnership involving Kindling, local growers (aka Manchester Veg People), and the University of Manchester. It builds on a previous development by Kindling, which set up Mcr Veg People, as a co-operative, to supply the University catering department with fresh, local, organic fruit and veg. The business aims of the project include increasing the turnover of Kindling in direct sales (since they are largely grant funded), along with broadening the market for local fruit and veg, and also making it possible for local people based in and around the University to deepen their relationship with local producers, by buying their products direct.

As of April 2015, Kindling are looking for an initial 100 customers to place an order and set up a direct debit with GoCardless, with a view to starting for real in June. There are approximately 10,000 staff at Manchester University, who can be reached directly by email, so the target of 100 seems very realistic. Rather than delivering boxes to the door, customers are required to pick up the boxes on a set day, from a location on the University campus. The service is also available to the public, but it is only expected to appeal to people living and / or working in the vicinity of the pick up point.

The shop front for is provided by Drupal's existing e-commerce suite called Ubercart. However, there is to this date no well developed Ubercart-GoCardless integration available in the public domain. I had already done some significant development of a Drupal 6 Ubercart-GoCardless module for in 2014, but this piece of work provided an ideal opportunity to further develop this, plus port it into Drupal 7. The software is now working very nicely on the site, and I am almost ready to make it available to the Drupal community as a sandbox module. This is very exciting for me, as it will be my first contribution of code to the open source movement.

In addition to developing the Ubercart GoCardless module, the site required a number of other fairly serious customisations, in order to meet their needs, and to date includes around 1,000 lines of custom code already, with more to come in the future as the site expands. The site was also a great opportunity for me to increase my CSS skills, with some fairly nifty visual effects if I may say so myself.

Keep an eye out for the launch of the GoCardless integration as a sandbox module, coming soon.