Over the past year, our routines have changed so much, and it’s a wonder what habits will stick with us when things go back to “normal” — including how we shop for our groceries.
Harvie, a Pittsburgh-based start up that provides home-delivered grocery boxes directly sourced from more than 75 Pennsylvania-based farmers and artisans, is on a mission to be a part of that answer.
Back in January, Harvie conducted a survey that revealed changes in people’s buying habits during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has shown us all the value of community, caring for our neighbors, and staying healthy,” said Nicole Whalen, Harvie’s marketing director. “This has accelerated shifts in the ways families are sourcing their food. And now it’s up to farmers, producers, and small businesses to harness this momentum to give consumers what they want and create lasting change in our food system.”
Among the nearly 2,500 people who took the survey, 76.3% reported an increased desire to support local farmers and suppliers, and they also noted an interest in supporting local restaurants through take-out and delivery.
“And the ways consumers want to be able to get that food is changing too, with 57.7% of respondents more interested in home delivery of groceries, and 34.9% expecting to maintain that habit post-pandemic,” Nicole said.
Now, Harvie is hoping to take their model mainstream and recently launched a crowdfunded investment through Honeycomb Credit. Their vision is to connect 5 million households with local farmers and producers on their platform by 2030.
“If we can pull this off, it would give local farmers and producers the ability to really compete with the big guys that currently rule the grocery market,” Nicole said. “When consumers prioritize sourcing their groceries locally, they strengthen the local food system, making it more resilient. This helps preserve local farmland, provides jobs locally, reduces waste, promotes more sustainable agricultural practices, and reduces emissions from transporting food from field to plate.”
To learn more about what you can get in a Harvie box, the benefits of buying directly from local farmers, and why you should care about where your food comes from, read our full Q-and-A with Nicole from Harvie below (edited for clarity and length).
📸: The Harvie team, photo courtesy of @harviefarms
What’s the story behind Harvie?
Our founder, Simon, grew up as the son of part-time farmer and full-time coal miner on the border of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This experience led Simon to question how we can create economic models that allow smaller farms to support full-time farmers so they can take care of their families, their land, and their communities.
What is Harvie’s mission and how does it work?
Harvie believes that our food has a story to tell, and we want our customers to know that story and feel a connection with our local food system and the people who grow and produce our top quality, local ingredients.
When members subscribe to Harvie, they fill out a short questionnaire with their food preferences. Then Harvie uses that to curate a personalized box just for them each week. Members have a chance to edit and swap out items before delivery to be sure they get exactly what they’re looking for. It makes grocery shopping convenient and local, delivering farm fresh groceries right to customers’ doorsteps.
Harvie is committed to changing the way the world eats by making it easier for consumers to support local farms and artisans. By shifting people’s grocery spending to their local farms and producers, we can help Pennsylvania’s small businesses beat the big guys that dominate our food system. People can learn more and subscribe at learn.harvie.farm.
📸: The Harvie team filling boxes, photo courtesy of @harviefarms
What sort of things can customers get in their Harvie boxes right now?
Harvie boxes are chock full of all the local ingredients home chefs need to make the food they love — local meat, fresh seasonal produce, milk, eggs, cheese, bread, honey, maple syrup, and many more specialty items.
A few customer favorites in the past couple of weeks have been lion’s mane mushrooms from Full Moon Mushrooms, Kim Chi from the Pickled Chef, organic milk from Broadrun Farms, and fresh greens from Fifth Season. With more than 250 different items available, there is something tasty for every preference!
What are the different subscription levels and costs?
Customers can choose to have their Harvie boxes delivered weekly or bi-weekly. And they can choose from 3 sizes: Small for $49 (great for 1-2 people), Medium for $79 (great for 2-3 people), or Large for $119 (great for 4+ people). Then customers can always add extra items to their boxes as desired.
How does Harvie differ from a typical CSA?
A typical CSA usually features products from just one farm and doesn’t allow for customization. We know that most people’s grocery needs are better met when they have the ability to choose the items in their box and when they can choose a schedule that meets their needs. For typical CSAs, if a customer is going to be out of town for a week, they just miss that week’s box. With Harvie, you can easily skip a week to tailor this to your actual grocery needs, only paying for the food you are eating. And rather than sourcing food from just one farm or producer, Harvie connects you with more than 75 different PA-based producers, curating your personalized selection from the best local products available.
What are the benefits of shopping directly from local farmers?
When people buy from Harvie they strengthen their local economy, keeping money in the hands of small businesses they know and love, and making their community more vibrant. Local food is often fresher and healthier, and local artisan-made small batch products are often higher quality. So for the buyer it’s a win-win to get really top quality ingredients, while doing good for their community.
When consumers prioritize sourcing their groceries locally, they strengthen the local food system, making it more resilient. This helps preserve local farmland, provides jobs locally, reduces waste, promotes more sustainable agricultural practices, and reduces emissions from transporting food from field to plate.
How does shopping locally help the environment?
When people eat local, it provides key environmental benefits. It drastically cuts down on the distance food has to travel before reaching tables. It is estimated that food in the US travels 1,500 miles on average to get from farm to plate. By lowering the “food miles” travelled, we can reduce fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, resulting in fewer pollutants in the atmosphere and in our waterways. Locally purchased food is often fresher and lasts longer, resulting in less food waste. And small, local farmers are more likely to use sustainable agricultural practices that have a better impact on the environment.
You recently launched a campaign with Honeycomb. Tell us more about how Harvie is growing!
Harvie’s work in Pittsburgh has proven that this model for connecting people with local food can work. So now, Harvie is looking to take that model, grow it and spread across the country. Harvie’s vision is 5 million households connecting with farmers and producers on our platform by 2030. If we can pull this off, it would give local farmers and producers the ability to really compete with the big guys that currently rule the grocery market.
To help us get there, we are looking for crowdfunded investment through Honeycomb Credit.
It’s an easy way for people to diversify their portfolios by investing in local Main Street businesses. The platform works for anyone looking to invest $100 in a business that piques their interest, to those wishing to invest tens of thousands in order to grow their wealth alongside a local business, and to anyone in between. You can check out our campaign at harvie.mx/GROW – it has all the information you’d need, including potential returns, and details about the project.
Why should more people care about where their food is coming from?
Food is an integral part of how we sustain our bodies, and connect with each other, our culture and our communities. You really make a statement about your values and your priorities in the choices you make about your food and where it comes from. There is a rich opportunity to use that daily decision about where you get your groceries to connect more deeply with your neighbors and the land where you live. It’s a choice that has power to create change and make the world and your community a more resilient place. And let’s be honest, food tastes better when we know the story behind it and can feel that sense of connection and share it with the people we love. Harvie is all about food from people you know.