Around eighteen months ago, we officially launched Nourish to Flourish, our workplace wellness program. As an extension of what we do with our home deliveries, we thought: imagine how cool it would be if we reached out to employers to offer a local and organic veggie bag for staff, delivered right to their place of work as an initiative to enable people who work full time to access fresh local and organic fruits and veggies if they want to? Everybody wins. The employer wins – they facilitate healthy eating and don’t even have to do anything other than make space for a drop off site, the employee wins, they have convenient access to local farms and sustainably grown food, and our farmers benefit because they have a steady and reliable market they can confidently grow for. Win-win-win!
The program has really taken off, we are delighted to say. I crunched some numbers and we have exposed participants to over 75 different fruits and veggies over the course of the year, and last year spent nearly $80,000 with local farms, we also provided over 600 recipes! There is no way to quantify in numbers the impact we have had in other ways, for example, some of our Flourishers (that’s what we call Nourish to Flourish participants) did not know how to cook when they joined the program. And now, just a few months in, they can recognize and love garlic scapes and know what to do with kohlrabi! Some of our Flourishers have lost weight, they feel better, and almost all of them are trying new things. Another immeasurable benefit is the sharing of information. We’ve had emails from participants who are trying composting now, because of a newsletter, or learned about GMO’s because of a blog we shared, and best of all, when they meet around the water cooler, the discussion inevitably turns to what they did with their kale. Our fresh food community has expanded.
The other benefit too, is the impact on our community. And I am not just talking about the dollar value of what has been re-invested, or the jobs that have been created, but, again, the less measurable benefits. The expanded farm operations, improved farm viability, security of open spaces within our community, and organic agriculture is less taxing on the land so fewer pesticides and fungicides in our soil, water, and air. And of course, the drastically reduced carbon footprint of a local food system.
Although we started out approaching workplaces, schools have caught on! Bright Horizons in particular has multiple locations dotting the South Shore. They offer this program to all their staff, and to all the parents with children in their care. It is an awesome way, I think, for a school to not only talk about sustainability, and teach young children how to live sustainable lives, but to lead by example. Bethany Whitemyer is a teacher at the Pembroke location. As a customer, she will often open her bag in front of her young students and talk about what is in it (did it grow on a tree, under the ground, on a bush? Is it a fruit? Does it have seeds? What color is it on the inside?). She also writes a blog for us on how to encourage children to eat more fresh foods. This isn’t the only initiative Bright Horizons undertakes, but it is one I have been able to witness first hand.
We recently added the first healthy ‘add on’ to the service: eggs, and we have more in store. We are in the process of designing a wellness/local food website (since I am now far more experienced in websites than I ever considered I would be). We want to offer coffee shares from a local roaster, bread from a local baker, and possibly some cheeses. This will all evolve over the next year. And the absolute best thing about the program is that it is 100% scalable over time. In other words, there are no limitations to how many companies we can service within our geographical area, or how many people we can reach with our locally based, farm supported, sustainable food system. It is not like a market with so many parking spaces, or a location that draws customers from an immediate area, we go to them!
I’ve said ‘we’ a lot during this email, and that is because our team is marvelous! Terry LaMonica is a certified wellness coach and has been with us since the beginning. Michelle Berry is a new addition to the Nourish to Flourish team and is an anchor for all that goes on. Maryann, our payment coordinator. Our drivers, Elliot and Michael are unbelievably committed, our packers, Hazel, Laurie, and Alyssa (and often any of the rest of us), take great care to ensure every bag is carefully prepared, and of course, all our farmers who spend months growing and nurturing, and finally harvesting the beautiful food we eat. I am deeply appreciative for each and every aspect and contributing hand, from farm, to table.