For a foodie like me, December is definitely the silly season. The lead-up to Christmas perfect excuse to eat lots of mince pies, pudding, chocolate and canapes – which means I have to be a little bit disciplined about what I eat in between.

Enter my newest discovery Harvest Box, a nifty service that delivers nuts and dried fruit packages to your office. Having these healthy snacks on hand means there’s less of a temptation to dip in to the biscuit tin and snack vending machine. You can choose your own mixes – I personally like By the Beach mix containing mango, macadamias, coconut and Brazil nuts. Today’s HOT Chat is with Will Cook, one of the founders of Harvest Box. Thanks Will!

Will, tell me a bit more about your background and how you came to start your business Harvest Box?

I have worked in large corporations and have also run my own catering business, therefore I have experienced both sides of trying to eat better at work. I remember working for large organisations where you would often be stuck in meetings or working back late and all you had at work was biscuits, unhealthy vending machines or fruit that nobody else was prepared to eat!

After many discussions over many evenings myself and two other mates decided to stop complaining and actually do something about turning workplace snacking on its head. We decided to think about it from the busy workers point of view and provide a product that is healthy, delicious, convenient and never boring. We even decided to allow our customers to rate all our mixes to their own taste so we only send you mixes you like. We want you to look at Harvest Box as a delicious self preservation box that sits on your desk.

Also, we worked with Australia Post to design a box that could securely send 4 punnets of healthy snacks (from a range of 50 mixes) to any address in Australia. We have been around for two months and have already sent thousands of boxes around the country. We won’t be happy until every desk has a Harvest Box!

What are the benefits of snacking on dried fruit and nuts?

Snacking on healthy and natural foods between meals can help to regulate blood sugar levels for sustained energy throughout the day.

There has been a complete shift in attitude to nuts and dried fruit recently. It is now widely recognised that nuts are natures own little vitamin pill, they don’t contain trans fats, are cholesterol free and are a great source of fibre and protein. The high protein content of nuts quickly satisfies your hunger and over time the nuts slowly release energy into your blood stream to give you lasting vitality.

Dried fruits are a good source of fibre and roughage and retain most of the health benefits of fresh fruit. We make sure we use as much fruit that is naturally dried and not soaked in sugar that you commonly find in the market place.

Our 4 punnets contained in each box are potion controlled so that you only have a suitable amount. You definitely can have too much of a good thing!

Our mixes are designed be delicious and to make you eat better. We want Australian workers to have more healthy eating options at work so they can keep their energy up during the day. We feel by having a box arrive on your desk each week with a range of natural foods will allow you to always have that snack on hand.

Where do you source your ingredients from?

Wherever possible we have hunted down the best tasting local produce we can find. We think Australian produce is the best! Our dried apple is from Tasmania, our dried mango and pineapple comes from Queensland and our almonds are from Mildura to name just a few. Seasonal constraints may dictate that from time to time we need to use imported produce, but this will be the exception. Wherever possible our dried fruits, nuts and seeds are free from preservatives, sulphites additives and added sugar.

What has been the most challenging thing you’ve faced in starting up your own business? What advice would you give to a small business owner?

Finding enough hours in the day and prioritising your work load. There are so many jobs to do and so much you want to achieve you need to make sure you are being effective with your time. We have found so many people want to talk about our product. If you are passionate about your offering your customers will be to. Because Harvest Box is committed to providing our customers choice we are constantly looking for new ingredients. This is fun but does take time.

All three of us have young families and I have an 11 week old baby so we have to make sure we split our time as fairly as possible between work and family. Being able to send our Harvest Boxes home each day makes life a little easier!!

What are your next plans for Harvest Box?

Looking to the future is the best part of running your own business. We are focused on ensuring our product range for our current customers is the best it possibly can be in terms of taste, freshness and health. Communicating all the options available with Harvest Box is critical but we don’t want to send too much info across. Things like pausing your deliveries, rating new products and forwarding on our free boxes all need to be communicated in an efficient way.

We want to keep increasing the amount of mixes we offer but we are also looking at supplying cafes and supermarkets with our individual punnets. Not to mention large companies wanting bulk orders.

We are in an exciting development stage we just have to make sure we grow in a sustainable manner. We love people coming to us with ideas so if any of your readers like what we do and have any suggestions feel free to drop us a line through our online feedback form on our website.

Finally, where are your HOT places to visit or things to do in Melbourne?

Three Bags Full (56 Nicholson St, Abbotsford +61 3 9421 2732) A funky cafe in the middle of industrial Abbotsford. On the weekend you will be waiting for a table so you know it is good!

Picnic in the Botanical Gardens – in the middle of the city it is nice to surround yourself with nature.

Farmers Markets – I try and go to one every month. The produce and knowledge they have is fantastic. We have actually found some great suppliers by popping down to a local farmers market. They appear across many suburbs throughout the year.

If you’re interested in giving Harvest Box a go, Will has kindly provided blog readers with a promotional code.  Just enter 169BTG9RF to get the first box free and second box half price – there’s no expiry date.