Mother Earth Food came through gloriously to serve our community as we went into isolation in March 2020. Fear and uncertainty were growing yet their team pulled together and rose to meet one of the fastest growing needs in our community for citizens, farmers and other business owners. Their story paints a true picture of collaboration at its finest.
Founded in 2012 by Andrea and Graham Duvall, Mother Earth Food (MEF) had grown to 270 deliveries a week by March of 2020. By the end of April 2020, they were making 1400 deliveries a week. 450% growth in 2 months has forever changed their vision of what can be done when the community pulls together.
The Duvall’s dream began one Saturday morning, in the summer of 2012, when their weekly trip to the farmer’s market wasn’t as appealing as usual. “What if local produce could be delivered to your door?” they wondered.
They knew farmers could benefit from having a consistent revenue stream rather than relying on seasonal farmer’s markets. The community could have access to locally grown food and support their local economy.
The need for MEF increased exponentially with the onset of the pandemic due to many factors. Earth Fare, farmer’s markets, and restaurants were closed. Farmers were left with thousands of pounds of food from crops planned months before. Vendors were stunned when many of their contracts were suddenly suspended threatening their ability to self-sustain. MEF saved the day by giving these farmers and vendors a way to sell their supply.
Vital business partnerships also formed which made this significant transition possible. Farm to Home Milk and Buchi Kombucha offered additional trucks and drivers for deliveries; partnerships which continue to this day. Eventually, MEF was sourcing from 300 farms and food vendors which put over 2 million dollars back into the local economy last year alone.
The business model is unique in that it values “Scaling with Goodness”, a term created by Janelle Tatum, CEO for MEF. While it’s more common for companies to scale for profit regardless of vendors or others, MEF’s model is to scale with their vendors, so as MEF grows, so does everyone involved.
Mountain Bizworks, a supporter of MEF and their vendors, has coached both on best growth practices so they can expand to reach a common goal. “MEF is not just about MEF; it’s about the community and being sustainable in our business practices so everybody grows together,” Tatum explains.
As the pandemic subsides, many people are eager to be out shopping at farmer’s markets or local grocers that have reopened. As a result, weekly deliveries for MEF have reduced by 50%. This is problematic for the farmers since they planted their crops based on 1000 deliveries each week. MEF is growing strong with the faith that people will prioritize quality food and the long lasting economic impact of sourcing their produce locally. They continue to attract new customers with over 585 grocery products available and additional delivery options in the works.
“When we’re able to witness the…authentic impact we can all have in our local community…it confirms what we believe to be true: this work is challenging…and worth doing. By ‘Voting with Your Fork’ and supporting Mother Earth Food, you not only get high-quality, fresh, nutrient-dense foods, you also provide stability and fair wages to regional farmers and vendors,” shares founder Andrea Duvall.
Written by Michele Bryan