Sunday, August 3, 2008

Run Jessica, Run

Jessica Harwood's Valley Green Feast is a modern day version of the service provided by milkmen of yore. This farm to table triathlon goes far beyond milk and eggs. From behind the wheel of an old U-Haul outfitted with a freezer, Jessica races around the Valley gathering eggs, produce, fruit, cheese, lamb, beef, bread and other local delights in the wee hours. She is responding to orders from customers that have been e-mailed in during the week. Around 10 am, she parks near some tobacco fields in Sunderland where the fruits of everyone's labor are distributed into individual boxes for local delivery. By 3 pm, blueberries that came out of a flat purchased from Czajkowski Farm in the morning are being consumed as a snack at a conference table in West Springfield and Warner's Corn in Sunderland (Mike's Maze) has been dropped off in boxes on the doorstep of twenty happy recipients from Amherst to Springfield. The charge for this service is around $25 per box with a small delivery charge depending on the number of people receiving the order. The 29-year-old entrepreneur has created the business with $3,300 from Smith and UMass entrepreneurship contests plus some of her own money. How does she do it? With a vegetable oil powered truck and the ardor of a true preservationist for ferreting out local food that doesn't stop at zucchini. There is goat cheese, grass-fed beef, ricotta cheese, prepared soups, the famous farmed Barramundi from Turner's Farm and bread. The following is from a recent e-mail to the faithful: "Delivered to your door, you will receive tomatoes, beans, cukes, greens, beans, berries, and squash for canning and freezing, along with directions on how to do it." A Cambridge native, active gleaner and proponent of local food, this entrepreneur is hugging the shores of the Connecticut to bring food fresh from the farm to your door.