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Farmers To You: A Year Round Partnership of Local Farmers and Families

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2013 April Issue Newsletter

Simeon Chapin, Farmers to You

The Farmers to You staff, with crops

It’s true, living in Boston you can get just about any piece of produce or type of food you could want at any time, all year long. But do you want to?
 
Boston resident Julie Wormser has chosen another way. “By ordering vegetables, cheeses, meats, and dairy from Farmers To You,” she says, “I get the freshest local food in my kitchen and on my table. And it’s easy.”
 
But, there is much more to it than that she says. She also feels part of a community of farmers and families who are supporting each other to reinvigorate local agriculture and economy. She has chosen to have her eating guided by the seasons – relishing tomatoes in the summer and savoring stews in the winter. Any limitations she feels are more than compensated for by a connection to the natural world.
 
“[What Farmers To You] are trying to do,” she says, “is create a saner food system and I totally buy into it.”
 
Former Boston-area resident Greg Georgaklis started Farmers To You two and a half years ago and provides weekly deliveries 12 months a year from partner farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Quebec, to families in the Boston metro area at 11 community pickup sites and delivery to home or office.
 
Hours after orders are placed online, Farmers To You goes out to farms and producers to gather food that is brought back to their food hub where it is packed into individual family’s purchases and put on trucks for the trip to Boston. Food is handled with the utmost care, and freshness is preserved at every opportunity. The breads from Red Hen Bakery, for example, are picked up on route to Boston and placed in coolers that maintain the heat left from baking that morning.
 
Originally moving to Vermont to start a bio-dynamic farm, Georgaklis’ experience running a large family owned horticultural business became valuable to local farmers looking for help, as well as the state’s Farm To Plate project. In his research for Farm To Plate, he found the fact that the scale of small family farmers didn’t match that of supermarkets was a significant barrier to local food  consumption. Seeing an opportunity to help, he founded Farmers To You as a model for small-scale direct-to consumer distribution that stepped away from the established system and created a close partnership between local farmers and families.
 
“We’re here to prove how a holistic partnership between farmers and families can thrive environmentally and economically,” says Georgaklis. “There’s knowledge and wisdom in natural systems that we’re modeling in our business design. Fertility is another word for profitability. My goal is to hone this model and then give it away – so that other communities across the country can do what we’re doing too.” While there are no upfront costs to families joining the partnership, there is a commitment to the farmers that supports stable business.
 
The agreement is for families to source a consistent portion of their food from partner farms. A minimum of $40 each week enables farmers to commit months ahead to providing food for them. “[It’s] an understanding that the cows need to be milked every day. So this notion that you can just buy what you want when you want it and forget about it when you don’t really doesn’t honor the work that the farmers do. The vision is that we order more consistently every week and find a rhythm, to create demand that matches the production on the farm,’’ said Georgaklis.
 
The model works for Wormser, and over 400 other families who have joined. She says she’s cooking more, eating better, and her food has more flavor.
 
The partnership is open to new families year round. NOFA/Mass is partnering with Farmers to You for the April 20th Perennial Chef: Early Spring Edition workshop, where participants will prepare recipes with what is locally available that week.

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