COVID-19 has tested and destabilized the American food supply chain, and some experts say we’re not out of the woods yet. As labor shortages in mass farming and transportation continue, Knoxville’s Farm Grub delivery service seeks to bypass the problems of a national supply chain by focusing on smallholder farmers. and local artisans.
“COVID-19 was proof that we were so dependent on the national food chain,” Farm Grub co-founder Wade Austin said. “Small farms are dying as the national food chain continues to become this manic beast, and we want to reverse it as much as possible.
“A family, community or region should be able to take care of itself. It should be autonomous, ”he said.
Austin, his co-founder Hank Rosenfelder – both former art students – and Rosenfelder’s father, Charlie Rosenfelder, started Farm Grub with the dream of “bringing back the milkman” by delivering chemical-free, locally grown, raised foods to customers. or manufactured. doors while taking the time to get to know the customers as well.
Austin said the delivery service has three assignments. First, it seeks to empower local farms, artisans and small businesses to manufacture and distribute food. Second, the company aims to provide a convenient, local, healthy and affordable grocery alternative.
“The third and most important mission is to feed everyone in the area who has food needs,” Austin said.
The company is working to become a retailer of supplemental nutrition assistance programs and has pledged a 15% donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
“Our basic observation is that there is a lot of food,” he said. “There is enough food for everyone. The problem is we waste 40% of the food produced in the USA.
“If we stop wasting, we can make sure that everyone is eating well, regardless of their income,” he added. “We believe the best way to stop waste is to be truly centralized and close to suppliers and consumers.”
Farm Grub is not a subscription box. It’s more like a distant farmer’s market. On the website, customers can select groceries from local suppliers such as Lick pan farm, Flour Head, Aretha Frankenstein, Sweetwater Valley Farm and Bush Beans.
If the order is less than $ 55, shipping is free to Knox or Blount counties. Otherwise, it’s just $ 6.
Eventually, the owners hope to add Jefferson, Roane, Anderson and Loudon counties to their delivery area. If it works, Austin said, they want to replicate their model in new locations to connect more small farms to customers in their area.