By Analiese Paik
For many of us, the summer is an exciting time full of CSA adventures and visits to our favorite farmers’ markets and farm stands to purchase our weekly supply of locally grown food. For others equally in love with eating locally, it spells frustration. Locally grown food is extremely hard to find at supermarkets and specialty grocers, except for special places like the Double L Market in Westport. Consequently, anyone with a very busy schedule, or perhaps homebound, will find themselves with limited options. Over the last few years, farm-to-home delivery services have been launched to help serve this untapped market.
Fresh Nation founders Tony Lee, Melanie Franklin, Hannah Pullman, and Alexander Lee decided to introduce a concierge- style farm-to-home delivery business with a personal shopper assigned to each order to remove some of the stress from our lives. While there are a number of farm-to-door businesses operating in Fairfield County, Fresh Nation is unique for three important reasons. Customers can order online for home delivery 7 days a week, the orders are custom picked and packed from farmers’ markets by a personal shopper the same day they’re delivered, and the food never sees a warehouse. Surprisingly, this ultra convenient means of purchasing fresh, local food doesn’t come with a premium price tag.
There are no minimums, no ongoing commitments, and no hidden fees (no markup on retail price). Each order carries a $5.95 delivery fee, which is nothing considering the effort involved in processing, picking, packing and delivering the orders. It’s actually a bargain service currently open only to residents of Fairfield County, CT plus many towns in Westchester County, NY. Fresh Nation is currently running a special where orders of $75 or more are delivered free. Visit the website for a complete list of towns, to place an order, and to obtain the discount code.
I chatted with Fresh Nation personal shoppers Devan Alusik and Lindsay O’Brien as they picked orders for five customers in Norwalk, Newtown, Greenwich and Stamford from the Westport Farmers’ Market on a scorching hot Thursday. Calm and organized with picking sheets in hand and packing crates in tow, Devan and Lindsay carefully went from booth to booth selecting organic produce, fruit, pastured meat and eggs, bread, and cheese to fill their customers’ orders. With orders complete, both headed to their vehicles to make the home deliveries.
A large organic box of produce is $55, a small box is $40, and “love/hates” are accepted according to Pullman. That means never having to look at that green pepper (a particularly polarizing vegetable according to HuffPo Food that even Chef Dan Barber banned from his restaurants) and wish they hadn’t chosen it for you. If you don’t like the uncertainty of a box filled at the discretion of the shopper, simply order a la carte. Fresh Nation makes it their business to know what each farmer will have at the market and updates their website offerings accordingly.
Fresh Nation personal shoppers were in Darien and Wilton picking orders for 10 more customers the Wednesday before. Fridays you’ll find Fresh Nation shoppers at the Rowayton Farmers’ Market, Saturdays at the New Canaan and Greenwich farmers’ markets, and Sundays in Rye, NY. Customers range from regulars with a 20-week standing order to those ordering for the first time. I’m certain they’re all surprised to discover, via a lovely bio card that accompanies deliveries, that Lindsay is a French Culinary Institute grad working as a pastry chef in a farm-to-table restaurant in Bedford and Devan has a degree in food nutrition and works by day at the Food Network recipe testing and by night writing recipes for her own cookbook. Pullman said that all their shoppers live the local food lifestyle and therefore appreciate the value of the services they’re providing to Fresh Nation customers.
Fresh Nation’s farm-to-home delivery service is an outgrowth of the company’s national online presence as a free matchmaker between consumers and farmers’ markets, farms and artisan food producers. Fresh Nation’s mission is to “build a healthier Nation, a Fresh Nation, where local vendors thrive and families enjoy the freshest, healthiest foods. A nation where we don’t need to trade our concerns for the environment for the food on our plates; where our food comes from sustainable sources; where it is healthy and nutrient rich; and where our purchasing power is directed at vendors who live among us.”
Farm to Home Delivery Service: https://www.freshnation.com/homedelivery