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Farm to Work: Moving on to New Horizons

Building connections between local farmers and shoppers has been one of the core components of Sustainable Food Center’s mission since our inception. One of the best examples of this work in action has been our Farm to Work project.

Over the last 12 years, we worked hard to build an innovative program that brought healthy, local food directly to employees at local businesses. But as our program has grown and changed, so has the landscape of food delivery. So it is with excitement we announce the transition of Farm to Work to new ownership by Farmhouse Delivery - a local business dedicated to delivering the best of Texas producers to customers right at their homes and workplaces

We look forward to seeing how Farmhouse Delivery will be able to use their resources to expand Farm to Work in the years to come. Keep reading to learn more about the history of Farm to Work, our program successes, and the decision making process that led up to this transition.

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First delivery of Farm to Work at the Department of State Health Services in 2007.

The Beginning of Farm to Work

Farm to Work started with one worksite at the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) offices in November of 2007, with the purpose of connecting farmers with worksites in order to deliver baskets of high quality, farm-fresh, local produce directly to employees.SFC and DSHS worked with WebChronic Consulting LLC to create an interface that would serve customers, farmers and SFC program managers.

The program offered employees increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and addressed some key barriers many employees faced when trying to add more fruits and vegetables to their diets. Farmers had the opportunity to establish customer relationships, diversify their farm operations, and sell food directly to each customer.

Our innovative model was based on the premise that farmers made the deliveries themselves. Each farmer was paired to a specific worksite, and employees were able to place orders each week for a box of a variety of produce curated by the farmers themselves.

Within a couple of days, employees would meet at a specific time to pick up their baskets directly from their farmer. Farmers were able to gain experience that prepared them when scaling up to wholesale operations, and workplaces were able to have increased access to locally grown, healthy food.

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Farm to Work Delivery pick-up table at Texas Athletics.

A Time of Change and Evaluation

Farm to Work underwent a thorough evaluation process early in 2018 to find out how to increase sales for our farmers. The program had grown to over 40 worksites and had a long waiting list of several offices eager to participate, in addition to a growing number of farmers interested in the program.

After months of focus groups, surveys, and extensive sales data analysis, we learned that Farm to Work had grown beyond SFC’s current capacity to manage the program. Sales were in the decline despite the growing interest, and customers were migrating towards more convenient and flexible models that could offer a greater diversity of choices. SFC would need to invest a large sum of resources, currently beyond our reach, in order to make the program more appealing to our customers while also staying competitive in the growing market of food delivery.

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Farm to Work delivery to Samsung in 2017.

A Decision for the Future

Early in 2019, we decided that in order to make the program grow, we would need to find a suitable agency interested in carrying on with the task of exploiting the unmet potential of Farm to Work.

So in October 2019, we made the decision to transition the management of Farm to Work to Farmhouse Delivery. This decision signifies a huge step forward for Farm to Work, as it allows the program to have access to more resources, and grow its customer base, which in turn will generate more sales for our farmers.

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Farm to Work delivery to the City of Austin in 2008.

Looking Back at the Successes of Farm to Work

After almost 12 years of operations, we have managed to become one of the most successful CSA (Community Support Agriculture) programs run by a non-profit. We are proud to say that we have accomplished the following benchmarks through our history:

  • Over 14,000 subscribers to our mailing list
  • Over 3,000 unique customers and 1,500 regular customers each year
  • We have partnered with 25 farmers
  • Keeping in between 6 to 10 farmers engaged in the program each year
  • 44 different drop off locations by the end of 2019
  • 71 different agencies have offered Farm to Work at their offices
  • Generated approximately 200,000 of sales each year, from which SFC returns 90% back to the farmer!
  • Sending over 108,000 baskets of produce to customers since we started
  • A total of $1,878,323 in sales!
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Farm to Work Coordinators at DSHS in 2017.

Thank You to Our Farm to Work Community!

We are so thankful for the amazing group of volunteers that supported Farm to Work through all these years. It has been truly refreshing to see individuals so dedicated to helping our local farmers and making our community stronger and healthier. We could not have been able to make it this far without their help!

Working on this program has been quite a learning experience, and we wish the Farmhouse Delivery team the best of success. Thank you all for supporting Texas agriculture.