One of the biggest criticisms of the local food movement is that it lacks efficiency, convenience, and a potentially smaller carbon footprint because of its unorganized and under developed distribution system. The argument is that a consumer actually wastes energy driving to various farms, farm stands, and farmers markets trying to "buy local." Another criticism is how to support local agriculture in the winter. One answer to these "problems" is the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFF). Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC) is a non profit organic farmers cooperative of 64 farmers in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. They focus on creating healthy high quality foods from highly maintained and enriched soils on their small scale family farms.
LFFC serves all of Eastern Pennsylvania, New York City, and most of the tri state area by connecting the farmer and customer, delivering the best local organic produce, value added products, and humanely raised and pastured animal products to retail establishments, co-ops, restaurants, and institutions. LFF runs a year round 4 Season Harvest buying club, and Inverbrook Farm serves as a drop off site. You can sign up on their website where you will encounter this message:
Building a sustainable food system starts on the farm and ends on your table. Both ends of the equation are equally important. We are dedicated to environmental stewardship, supporting local communities, and producing healthful food. We are also committed to bringing you the best food we can at fair, affordable prices. Sign up for 4 Season Harvest today and get the local products you want in one fell swoop. Shop online and receive weekly deliveries at a pick-up site in your neighborhood.
Our products include Seasonal Vegetables, Eggs, Milk, Butter, Cheese, Yogurt, Flour, Maple Syrup, Honey, Bison, Beef, Pork, Chicken, Goat Milk and Cheese, Gluten Free Baked Goods, Fair Trade Organic Coffee, Baby Food, Mushrooms, Apple Cider, and more.
The protocol for ordering is relatively simple. You sign up through the LFF website. They will send you a confirmation email which will then give you access to their inventory. You make your order on-line--you must do this before 4PM on Friday--then your order will be delivered to Inverbrook the following Tuesday. You will receive an email with your order total, and then you send a check payment into LFF headquaters. The LFF delivery usually arrives at the farm by mid-morning on Tuesdays--and then you come pick it up. I have been sending email reminders once your order arrives. Its that simple. Because LFF shares warehouse space with local health food store Kimberton Whole Foods, you as a consumer have access to a great diversity of product--including coffee. Its a wonderful example of collaboration and cooperation where the focus is on creating a heathly, sustainable, local food system with the acknowledgement that we obviously cannot grow everything in southeast Pennsylvania, but we can still do our best to make sure that the products we offer are from small family farms and that the enviromental impact of transportion is kept to a minimum.
To learn more about this wonderful food enterprise click here to read a profile on LFF Coop that appeared in a Spring 2009 issue of Grid Magazine.
One of the major forces behind the Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop is its general manager Casey Spatch. I am a big fan of Casey, not only do we share a common ethic when it comes to the elements of a local food system that are most important, Casey is also wealth of information when it comes to medicinal herbs and foraging. Casey and his partner Eli have started an Medicinal Herb CSA through Lancaster Farm Fresh known at Community Supported Medicine. If you are a fan of foraging and medicinal plants the Lancaster Farmacy blog is definitely worth checking out. As it turns out I am not the only one impressed (and I would say mildly obsessed) with Casey's amazing depth of knowledge--Lee Stabert, writer for GRID magazine, has featured Casey in several GRID magazine and blog postings. Check out the links below:
Foraging for Pawpaws and starting a fire while hunting for the fruit.
Part 1 and Part 2 of a hunt for Morel Mushrooms.
Posting on Casey's latest endeavor with partner Elizabeth Weaver--the Lancaster Farmacy.