For thirty years Farmer John Peterson has grown his biodynamic, certified organic fruits and vegetables on his farm in rural Illinois. As a boy in the 50’s, he would milk and feed the cows before school. When it was his turn to take over the family farm, he decided to grow things a little differently. He started an organic system of farming where the crops grew from the healthy, living soil instead of earth full of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. Farmer John started selling his crops through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) system so the community could taste the magnificence of his agricultural achievements and so kids could understand where their food came from. Some folks even made a movie about his efforts. Back in the ’90s, it wasn’t as easy to connect with the people who wanted a share of his organic squash, greens, and fruits.
Luckily for Farmer John and hundreds of other farmers, a business named Harvie (short for Harvest) sprouted up seven years ago with one goal in mind: connecting people to their local farmers. Through Harvie, community farmers like John Peterson of Illinois, Janet Aardema, and Dan Gagnon of Virginia, and the LaMonica Family of New Jersey can reach their local communities and share the wealth of their harvests. By using the CSA model Harvie helps build partnerships between farmers and the community around them, so when you buy a “farm share” you are purchasing a membership in a farm that delivers a weekly box of fresh goods straight from your local farm.
Depending on the growing season, each box might have different goods (you can’t farm strawberries year-round). However, with Harvie, you can customize each box, so you don’t end up with rutabaga when you really wanted carrots. Harvie helps you manage the shipments, so you won’t find a bushel of apples on your doorstep right before you leave town. This customizability means you’re more likely to enjoy everything in your box. If you find you were a bit more adventurous one week than you normally are, and now you’re stuck with a bunch of beets and no plan on how to cook them, Harvie publishes recipes designed to inspire your culinary creativity and resources to help you properly store your fresh fruits and vegetables.
Not only is Harvie connecting farmers to the people around them, but they are helping to reduce and prevent waste in the produce industry. By working with customers to fill boxes with foods they will actually use, Harvie helps cut down on crops going to waste! Then by matching people to their nearest, most suitable farmer, they are helping reduce the amount of energy needed to ship customers their food. With a 97% retention rate from month to month, farmers know who their customers are going to be ahead of time, and Harvie provides farmers with access to tools to help scale their business, highlight their work, and do the best job they can do.
As more people start to think about where their food comes from, businesses like Harvie help connect consumers to their neighbor farmers, and they help farmers share their homegrown goodness with their communities. The Counter published an article detailing how interest in CSAs increased in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, and they also reported that most – more than 75% – of Americans were already committed to eating more local foods. This is great news for local farmers, but the traditional CSA model can be daunting to people who are picky eaters. That’s where the flexibility of Harvie allows customers to get the most from their local farmers. “My vision with Harvie since we launched four years ago has been to make buying from local farms as easy as buying from Amazon,” Simon Huntley, CEO of Harvey, shared on the Harvie blog, “In essence, we help small farms beat the big guys.”