- Courtesy of Reid Parsons
- Intervale Food Hub drivers Taylor Firestein (left) and Kristen McDowell
Intervale Food Hub
Burlington • intervalefoodhub.com
For Burlingtonians, food doesn't get more local than the offerings of the Intervale Food Hub — from products to placement. Part of the nonprofit Intervale Center, the hub aggregates food from local producers and delivers it to Burlington residents. The groceries might include jam, yogurt, onions, broccoli, greens, chicken and coffee.
When the pandemic shut down nonessential businesses during "parsnip season," sales at the food hub quadrupled in a month, said Reid Parsons, sales and marketing manager. The organization doubled the number of producers it worked with to roughly 70, including 40 farms. Three grow produce right at the Intervale.
"We didn't really have to change anything," Parsons said. "We just had to grow really rapidly."
For customers, weekly delivery of locally sourced food was a pandemic comfort and delight. Folks placed orders online, and groceries were left outside their homes, including at co-ops, senior housing and apartments. Customers were alerted by text when their food had arrived.
"No-contact delivery throughout the pandemic was a lifesaver," one consumer wrote to Seven Days.
For a while last spring, before a second driver was added in June, operations coordinator Taylor Firestein would load her 14-foot refrigerated truck at 6 a.m. and make deliveries until late afternoon or early evening.
"It was a crazy time," Parsons said. "It was wild. We just added a lot more stops. It's more efficient to have a denser route."
While 75 percent of customers get home delivery, people who live outside of Burlington can order through the hub and pick up their food at the Intervale. The hub also recently resumed drop-offs at two work sites.
At the end of the 2020 summer season, customers rated the hub 9.8 out of 10 in an internal survey, according to Parsons. One Seven Days reader explained why: "Very nice service. Excellent products."
And, they added, "Reid is so nice!"
Bread & Butter Farm: This farm's CSA shares were as adaptable as the farmers themselves during the pandemic. Shares were available in three sizes and three seasons, with the option to add meat. Pickup was a DIY affair: Members selected their items from a bountiful veggie display. (Shelburne • breadandbutterfarm.com)
Farmers to You: The online business founded more than a decade ago was ahead of the curve in aggregating local products and distributing them to customers — an adaptation many farms made during the pandemic. It continued to bring grains, vegetables, cheese, milk, fruit and bread from about 100 farms and producers to customers in Vermont and Boston. (Middlesex • farmerstoyou.com)
Footprint Farm: With pickups in Bristol, Hinesburg and Burlington, this organic vegetable farm's CSA draws a wide-ranging and loyal group of customers. In 2020, it launched an online store with à la carte add-ons, giving members exclusive access to extra farm veggies and rotating items such as honey, bread, meat, ferments and mushrooms. (Starksboro • footprintfarmvt.com)
Pete's Greens' Good Eats CSA: In the last two weeks of March 2020, about 200 families joined the organic farm's CSA, bringing the membership to about 600 families. Sign-ups continued through the year as more Vermonters than ever sought out local produce. "It's just been nutty. I didn't really expect it," owner Pete Johnson told Seven Days at the time. (Craftsbury • petesgreens.com)