With the winter season rapidly approaching, many of us New Yorkers are looking forward to the hearty and comfort type meals we will be eating for the holidays and beyond. Naturally many of us are weight conscious and even in the cold weather are looking for ways to keep our weight down and our figure looking good throughout. So when I got news of this hot new delivery service that sends the freshest produce straight to our door at a great cost, I had to learn more. This service is called Farmbox Direct, which is located in the East Village between Great Jones Street and Bowery.
The new subscription based service that brings 100% USDA certified organic seasonal, and pesticide-free produce to singletons, families, couples and friends from New York to Washington DC. For those who are looking to embark on a healthier, cleaner lifestyle, Farmbox Direct offers seasonally selected produce perfect for those who don’t have enough time to shop for food that’s good for their mind, body, and soul. Farmbox Direct provides customers with the highest quality seasonal produce with boxes assembled and delivered weekly. Farmbox Direct gives families the opportunity to rediscover what a seasonal and local diet is with all of the produce’s health benefits.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with founder Ashley Tyrner about her burgeoning business, why after all these initiatives there is still a healthy epidemic in this country, and what her hope is for Farmbox Direct in the future.
Hi Ashley, thanks for taking time to talk with us. First off, how did this concept come about?
Hello! Thanks for taking the time to try out my startup!
I am the farmers daughter, my dad is a large corn and soy bean farmer. I grew up working in the summers at my uncles compost in the Midwest, so I did have a bit of knowledge about farming and our food system. The actual concept is a product is a hybrid of myself being on food stamps while pregnant with my daughter and trying to eat healthy and organic for myself and my unborn baby on a food stamp budget, and my 3 1/2 year old daughter. She is a self proclaimed vegan since age 1, she refused to ever eat a piece of meat, so I thought to myself: if my daughter is only going to put fruits and veggies in her body, I want them to be the best I can get my hands on. I was a busy corporate working single mom here in NYC, so finding time to make the trip to my local farmers market was a hard task, and I soon learned not all the farmers at my local farmers market were using organic practices. I knew I was not the only person in need of a service along these lines, so I decided to step down from the corporate world and go back to my roots to start Farmbox Direct.
Do you think there is still an epidemic in our country with the lack of nutrition amongst young adults and adults?
There definitely is. I applaud our 1st Lady Michelle Obama for going into our children’s schools to ban junk food, and work to replace our kids meals at school with healthy alternatives. I do believe in just the last 3 to 5 years people have really began to pay very close attention to what is in the foods we eat, but society as a whole defiantly has a long way to go.
How do you organize each box? Can they be custom prepared to each clients liking?
I personally each week look over what different farms, and suppliers I deal when, will have harvested for that coming weeks farmbox. I price each box out, and try to design each box around different items to make neat interesting cooking ideas. I always say that designing each weeks farmbox is my weekly puzzle for my mind! I allow people to make 5 substitutions to give my customers the freedom to swap in and out items to their liking. I want people to have the advantage of having items they love and will enjoy in their weekly box. Farmbox direct is like a CSA, but we allow you to make substitutions to your liking, where a CSA your stuck with whatever that particular farm has harvested that week.
What is your most popular Farmbox so far and why do you think that is?
The most popular farmbox menu so far was actually just last week! I had only a 7% sub rate, people went crazy over the kiwi berries I was able to get my hands on! Before that in July we had a box that contained cherries, peaches, blueberries, along other great items and that week I only had a 9% sub rate.
As diverse as these boxes are, do you think it will pave way for other unique ideas for the Farmbox brand?
Of course! This Tuesday I actually will launch our kids lunch box option, which I have named “Harlow’s Harvest” after my daughter, Harlow. That add on to your weekly farmbox will have an organic lunch kit for your child’s lunch. As a working single mom, I know how hard it can be to pack my preschoolers lunch, let alone packing her an organic lunch. I decided to launch this to help parents take the stress out of planning their child’s lunch. We will deliver the kit for you each week. *Hint* there is even a chocolate milk that contains a whole days recommended veggies Intake hidden in the chocolate milk!
Further I am lunching around the holiday time, a dry goods once a month “switch” box to slowly turn your home to an organic household. The box will contain everything from laundry detergent, to popcorn, to cookies to help slowly transition your house to an organic household.
AND for pet lovers: I am paving the way for organic pet food farmboxes!
What have you learned throughout this experience?
I have learned this business was much more difficult to start and expand than I thought before I launched farmbox direct. Once I expanded outside of the NYC area, and began using FedEx PeriShip for my logistics, I learned totally on my own that there is a whole logistic, and engineering element that goes into getting that farmbox from my warehouse, to my customers door. You would not believe what it takes to get that box to someone’s door! Expanding to a larger scale, became a whole new game! I have also learned that it is very important to surround yourself with people who believe in you, and your concept. My board of advisors I have to say is very impressive, Richard Stomabck, Ernest Lupinacci, Michael Roth, Dennis Kneale to name a few have all joined by board of advisors. They all have totally different backgrounds but make a very wide, well rounded group to help guide me in my visions for expanding. I launched solely on my own the NYC and brooklyn market, deciding to take this to a national level meant bringing on a team to help implement that idea. Down to choosing a PR firm was critical, you have to have people that support you, believe in you, and you’re brand.
What are your hopes for the Farmbox brand in the future?
I hope my company can change people’s lives, their health, and their future. You are what you eat, I hope farmbox direct can educate people to eat for their health! I am already working to take this to a national level, maybe other countries could be in the near future, I actually have already have had a Venture Capitalist meeting about me taking this to the Asia market. People like to say “the sky is the limit”. I like to aim for the moon in my life. Elon Musk wants to put people on Mars, believe if he figures out how to get to Mars, I will then figure out how to get Farmbox Direct to Mars!
Take a look at Farmbox Direct’s sites for more info!