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May 15, 2016
Walking With Whole Foods
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
There’s a buzz in the Lehigh Valley about the new Whole Foods coming to the area in September. Its long awaited arrival presents a unique shopping experience for those of us who share the Whole Foods mission, "With great courage, integrity and love – we embrace our responsibility to co-create a world where each of us, our communities and our planet can flourish. All the while, celebrating the sheer love and joy of food.”
Several weeks ago, a core Red Earth team, Farmer’s Wife included, arrived at a meet-and-greet with the produce buyers for Whole Foods. In search of locally sourced products for their new store, this invitation was extended to all local producers in the Lehigh Valley. We had no idea what to expect. Armed to the hilt with flyers, postcards, a farm video and a cooler full of samples we waited our turn.
What greeted us, was a panel of friendly, supportive faces, the produce-buyers of Whole Foods. Conversation flowed about the location of the new store, the speculation of its success, the story of Red Earth Farm and our growing philosophy. We talked about why efficiency is an important part of the sustainability model, and learned more about Whole Foods “Responsibly Grown” program. At last, the cooler was opened, and buttery heads lof lettuce, followed by bok choi, young kale, salad turnips and baby arugula spilled out on the table. It was a proud moment, watching their eyes pop at the lovely scent and freshness before them. To put it mildly they were excited. Matt was particularly enthusiastic,“In 20 years of buying produce for Whole Foods, I have never seen such a high-quality presentation of product as Red Earth Farm’s."
This week part of that same team stopped by the farm. We walked and talked about possibilities, nibbling samples growing in the fields. Of course this is potentially a great opportunity for our farm to grow and thrive, but what struck me most was the genuine support this team offered us. The feeling that this was a partnership, and that they cared about our prosperity as much as their bottom line was both surprising and overwhelming. If that feeling persists throughout our relationship, I will have an even deeper respect for the validity of their mission statement.
So now we are at the baby beginnings of taking steps to provide for the families that shop there. We feel that a good balance between CSA, Farmer’s markets and wholesale production is a perfect fit for our family farm. We value the direct connection with get with our CSA members and market customers and so they are top priority. With an excellent crew and managerial staff this season, we are ready to expand, and we feel confident that we are pointed in the right direction.
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