5 questions with Stephanie Scherzer of Farmhouse Delivery
Stephanie Scherzer founded Austin-based Farmhouse Delivery in 2009 with a focus on sustainability and connecting communities with their local farmers.
The big picture: The business began with fresh produce boxes, delivering a weekly collection of fruits and vegetables, and later adding local baked goods, coffee, eggs and more. Now, Farmhouse Delivery works with more than 200 farmers, ranchers and over 150 brands.
- Farmhouse still offers its subscription delivery service for local produce in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. There's also a box of pasture-raised meat and a curated selection of local produce, meat and other grocery staples.
- They later launched a meal kit subscription, which allows customers to whip up dinner for four or eight people.
We chatted with Scherzer about her focus on sustainability, ending food waste and small-scale urban farming:
Meal kits didn't take off until after 2009. How did you come up with this idea?
"I really wanted to see if I could feed my neighbors. I mean it was kind of like a desire of … how can I really work with other farms and kind of aggregate what's the best in season and then try to take it to the door?"
What are the benefits of small scale urban farming?
"Some of my farmers have half an acre, all the way up to 1,000 acres or more, but that is our niche, and that's what I was trying to solve for. It's really hard to distribute in a local supply chain that size of a producer."
"The quality and the freshness and the nutrition is at their highest peak because they're harvested within sometimes hours or just a day or two before it gets delivered to us. … But also, we see small farmers disappearing. I'm trying to grow both healthy soil production around urban cores and support those farmers as well as people in the urban core."
Meal kit services got a lot of criticism for the plastic and waste they produced. Was that on your mind in 2009?
"Yes, always from the beginning, and especially with the meal kit program. … We just thought, 'How can everything that we use either be recycled, composted or taken back. Can we put it back into our ecosystem?'"
Farmhouse Delivery accumulated only 2% of food waste last year. How do you manage waste as part of this model?
"We have a 48-hour window for people to order from us. … But then … in some cases we're only ordering up to what's needed."
"We have a lot of organizations that we donate to on a weekly basis. … We give the rest to the animals or to some of our producers that take it home to feed their chickens."
How do you consider sustainability when choosing ranchers to work with?
"I think regenerative farming is really how we're going to heal this planet. … All of our ranchers that we work with are doing pretty innovative stuff, and they're giving back to the land. … We're always looking for not just the best tasting, but I think also the best practices."
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