Growing an Inclusive Local Food Economy
Fresh Harvest is a subscription food delivery service making it quick and easy for families in Atlanta to get fresh, sustainably grown produce from local farms. Through partnerships with 24 Georgia-based organic farmers and food suppliers, the Clarkston-based Fresh Harvest delivers baskets filled with produce and artisan items every week to homes and businesses in the Metro Atlanta area.
Since its launch in 2012, Fresh Harvest’s mission has been supporting local farmers by making healthy eating convenient and automated for its customers. Co-founder Zac Harrison adds, “We want to support our city and have the food that’s grown here, stay here.”
In 2016, Fresh Harvest purchased $685,000 in food from local farmers and artisans and prides itself on its “responsive supply chain,” sourcing from local farmers based on their seasonal availability.
The company also recently started sourcing from its own Fresh Harvest Garden, which sold 1,074 pounds of produce in 2016, including diverse foods such as Ethiopian kale and New Zealand spinach. The garden serves as a community gathering space for dinners and cooking demonstrations and will expand production from an eighth of an acre to two acres in 2017, thanks to a grant from the Food Well Alliance.
Fresh Harvest was founded not only to be a profitable business, but also to provide community employment. The company plans to grow its 18-member staff, of whom nine are from the Clarkston’s refugee community.
Hiring local refugees is foundational to Fresh Harvest’s social enterprise approach. Refugee employees contribute agricultural skills to the garden. They also help manage a farmers market for residents at the Willow Branch Apartments in Clarkston.
One of the things that excites Harrison the most about Fresh Harvest is its role in the local food system. Farmers are saying, “How much can we grow for you guys? Is there anything we could grow that would be better for your customers?” To Harrison that means “the buying power of the Fresh Harvest customer can influence what local farmers are growing.” It also means that Fresh Harvest is successfully cultivating the supply and demand of local food.