Local Foods Plymouth: Our Mission
Since 2006, Local Foods Plymouth (LFP) has been offering an alternative farmer’s market to the greater Plymouth, NH region. The mission of LFP is to connect local farmers and area residents in order to support local agriculture and community. This is accomplished through an online outlet offering locally made, raised, or grown products. LFP aims to encourage community members to become more aware of and sustain their local food providers; to enable easier access to fresh, local foods; and to help communities reduce their energy consumption related to food.
A Need for Growth
Even though the model had been functioning smoothly and steadily by providing goods to consumers, in 2012, there was a growing concern about financial stability and viability into the future. At that time, LFP was on the cusp of growth, and needed not only a surge of community energy and support, but a financial boost as well.
In 2014, LFP received grants from the NH Charitable Foundation and from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) to design and implement a "Farm to Desk (F2D) Project." These Grants have provided programming boosts to many communities around the country.
The F2D project allows employees in the Plymouth area a venue to purchase specialty crop and other local products year-round. Individuals make their online purchases each week for product delivery directly to the employees’ desk. Accessing funding for the F2D project helps market, sell, and efficiently deliver specialty crops without passing costs onto farmers thereby keeping specialty crop prices more competitive. The funding also allowed LFP to hire a second part-time employee to implement the project.
Food & Economic Security
Through the F2D Project, LFP aims to improve NH's food security by strengthening viability of local farms, reduce farmers' costs for selling specialtycrops, reduce food transportation related energy consumption, increase year-round easy access to specialty crops direct to the consumer, expand the customer base, and help sustain the local economy by engaging the "Local Multiplier Effect."
The Project Partners include local employers from such industries as Health, Banking, Energy and Insurance companies, Public Schools, Plymouth State University, and small businesses. In order for individuals to participate in the program, they must purchase a F2D Membership, which is equivalent to the general LFP Annual Membership (reducing the service fee for each online order from 7% to 3%). Initially, LFP was able to introduce the program through a grant-subsidized $15 membership. However, as LFP plans for the future of the program, raising the membership fee (to $50) was the first step toward post-grant viability of F2D.
The program has been successfully operating for ten months with positive reviews. Many participants are excited about the year-round options: produce in season including a wide range of specialty crops, local and humanely raised meats, raw milk, specialty cheeses, fresh baked breads and pastries, sweets, jams and jellies, eggs, as well as handmade personal care products. LFP also periodically offers pre-buy packages that include five to six staple items weekly such as milk, cheese, eggs, meat, bread, and a bag of veggies.
By developing and participating in programs such as LFP, the boundaries to agricultural experimentation and growth in New Hampshire are being expanded. Farmers and producers who are extending the growing season are providing the consumer base the ability to purchase products beyond the regular outdoor Farmer Market season, further supporting the local food economy. The LFP vendors are diversifying in many ways: developing value added products, growing storage crops, and utilizing greenhouse and season extension technology.
The Next Step
LFP has seen a marked growth by introducing an entirely new customer base through the F2D Program, with sales doubling in less than a year. LFP is keeping consumer dollars within the local money stream by returning 88% of overall sales to the vendors. Small organizations like LFP will continue to thrive by remaining open to new ideas such as F2D, being responsive to vendor and consumer needs, and working toward a mission that promotes community strength and resiliency.
Regina Rinaldo is passionate about serving the community through the promotion of good food and vibrant local economies. She is a lady of many trades: a cook, a farmer, a baker, a delivery person, an event planner, and an active community member. While living and working at D Acres Permaculture Farm & Educational Homestead in Dorchester, NH she served on the LFP Advisory Committee for 3 years. She joined the staff in December 2014, and looks forward to the continued growth in the local food movement in the greater Plymouth, NH region. Connect with Local Foods Plymouth on facebook.