I’ve been a huge supporter of local produce, and farmers markets. I shop for myself almost exclusively at the Lakewood Farmers market this time of the year. Unfortunately shopping for the restaurant is a whole different situation. There are things for the restaurant I know I will need, and how much of it, and showing up at the market, hoping to find what you need is not all that fun. Especially when you walk away empty handed. Fresh Fork Market has fixed all that. My second delivery arrives tomorrow, and I’m very happy with how things have worked so far.
Fresh Fork Market is a new purveyor to the Cleveland area. They are currently going through their first Ohio growing season. FFM is a local food distributor. They are working with over 50 small farmers over a 80 mile radius surrounding Cleveland. The customer interface they have created is one of the most pleasant ordering experiences I’ve ever had. Delivery days are Tuesday, and Friday, and ordering deadlines only 24 hours ahead. Upon accessing the FFM webpage you can easily navigate through what is available, order what you want, from which farmer you desire, at a set price. 36 hours later the product is delivered fresh from the ground to your door.
I understand that FFM does not inventory anything. There is not a warehouse with cases of ripening tomatoes, or rotting greens. An ordering cycle would process like this. Product is delivered on Friday. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the farmer takes an inventory of what they will have available for a Tuesday delivery and posts this on the FFM webpage. Customers have until midnight Sunday to place an order made up of the product the farmers will have available. Monday, probably at 1 am, the farmer gets an order from FFM upon which they pick, and pack what’s needed and ship it off to Cleveland where FFM re-packs things for distribution Tuesday. This process is genius. The lack of inventory, the farmer created availability, the ability to complete an order online, all allows for some of the freshest local food to be dropped at my door twice a week.
Who needs a distributor? Not Solomon’s Farm in Avon. For all my chatting up of FFM online interface, I regress to my weekly call to Solomon’s upon which I talk to the person who both planted and will pick my produce. All the while creating an ‘inventory’ and ‘pricing structure’ in their head as we go. Delivery day, well that goes something like this, "if it doesn’t rain tonight I can pick that tomorrow and see you around 6pm" said Solomon’s, and I know if I wake up and the ground it wet, I will have to wait an extra day for my delivery.