Hello, friends! How are you? Did you, like me, realize today that Thanksgiving is next week? Crazy, right?
The holiday season always appears in a flash of cranberry sauce and Christmas carols. I don’t typically host Thanksgiving; we go to my mother-in-law’s for a marathon of stuffing, pie, and good conversation. Christmas, though—that’s all me. It’s my favorite holiday, and I love to host family and friends for a big celebration. (One year we had 30 people for dinner on Christmas Day!) It’s a lot of work to plan, bake, cook, and prepare for guests, but I look forward to it.
This holiday season I have a secret weapon to share with you to make your holiday preparations easier: Farmers to You.
Farmers to You, which is based in Vermont, is a middleman of sorts: it connects customers looking for locally-grown products with farmers who work hard all year long to grow and create quality food items. Farmers to You focuses on Vermont farmers, and the twist of their business model is that they work outside the traditional grocery store. Instead, they deliver the food directly to customers at more than 25 pick-up sites in Massachusetts. Farmers to You’s prices are comparable to what I’ve paid for organic produce at Whole Foods and my town’s farmers market. However, farmers who sell through Farmers to You are paid five times more in this program than what they make from traditional grocery stores. Impressive, right?
I first learned about Farmers to You years ago while at dinner at a friends’ house. The hostess pulled out Strafford Creamery’s organic ice cream from her freezer, which she had purchased through Farmers to You, and my family promptly fell in love with flavors that tastes quite unlike anything we could get at the grocery store. Imagine ice cream made without fillers and preservatives—only good, quality organic ingredients. I’m not a big ice cream person, but with Strafford Creamery’s ice cream in my freezer, I may be sneaking by an 11 PM scoop.
When I was invited to try out Farmers to You, I knew that I’d have to get that ice cream (and I did – three flavors!). My grocery list also included: beets, potatoes, squash, granola, dried mango, toffee, dates, maple syrup, onions, beet and ginger pasta, milk, garlic, apple cider, and salad greens. Plus, I ordered organic baguettes and hamburger buns from Red Hen Baking Company and organic milk from Strafford Creamery. One stop shopping!
Everything I selected was organic and made (or grown!) in Vermont. Conventional food items are available through Farmers to You, and the options for families like mine—who only eat organic at home—are plentiful. Also, and perhaps most important, the quality of the food is top-notch.
The ordering process is so easy. You start on the Farmers to You website where you can search by item or explore the categories of food items. Farmers to You carries meat and fish, dairy and eggs, vegetables, baked goods, pantry items, and more. They even have Thanksgiving turkeys! Items are seasonal and do change. However, it is possible to arrange a standing weekly order (think: eggs, milk, bread), and update it as new items are added to the site.
The most convenient pickup in my town was a seven-minute drive from where my kids had music lessons. While they strummed the guitar and pounded the piano keys, I drove to a private residence to pick up my order. This pickup spot was managed by the homeowner, a longtime Farmers to You supporter, and he was so welcoming. His teenage son even helped me bring my groceries to the car! It was a good feeling to meet other people who are committed to eating quality food and supporting local farmers.
Another thing that I especially appreciated about Farmers to You is that the company provides customers with an opportunity to donate to a food pantry in Barre, Vermont during the weeks orders are suspended. The focus on giving back is what makes the Farmers to You partnership extra special. Additionally, Farmers to You is committed to being environmentally friendly, so customers are asked to return the bags and packaging for reuse or recycling.
If you plan to try out Farmers to You (which you should!), here are some tips from my experience:
- Bring a list of what you ordered with you to your pick-up and double check you have everything before leaving. (I didn’t do this, and had to return back for some of my vegetables.)
- Sign up for Farmer to You’s text reminders. You’ll receive them on Sundays, reminding you that the deadline to change or suspend your order is approaching, and on your pick-up day so you don’t forget to get your items.
- Contact Farmers to You if you have any questions. I did, and found the customer service to be prompt and helpful.
- Try new items! Farmers to You has so many famers within its partnership, you can get nice exposure to a variety of farmers and even try some new foods (celeriac anyone?).
My family will be continuing to use Farmers to You to bring local-grown, organic food to our kitchen table beyond this review. We need more of that ice cream…and those beets… and that bread… I’m making my Christmas food shopping list now.
Want to give Farmers to You a try? Red Shutters readers will receive 15% off orders placed before December 17 by using the code RS15.