The Neighborhood Harvest Cultivates a New Mission
Local Food Delivery Service Brings the Farmers Market Home during COVID-19
Photos courtesy of The Neighborhood Harvest
During a time when going to the grocery store can be a risk, people are relying more than ever on the convenience on food delivery services. While many area farmers markets have adapted during coronavirus, The Neighborhood Harvest has another way to get fresh, local goods straight to your front door.
The Neighborhood Harvest takes farm to table to the next level. The Suffolk-based company began in 2012 as a greenhouse farming operation that supplied fresh basil to local restaurants and grocers in the region. In 2014, The Neighborhood Harvest expanded to more fully serve Coastal Virginia residents with “beyond organic” lettuce varietals, herbs and other greens.
“We’ve been in your community for years. We drive through your neighborhood every single week,” says Thomas Vandiver, president of The Neighborhood Harvest. “With the coronavirus crisis coming up so suddenly it really changed our mission rapidly.”
To say the mission of The Neighborhood Harvest “changed” would be an understatement. With area grocery stores in short supply of essentials, including eggs, milk and meat, The Neighborhood Harvest stepped in to fill that void with goods straight from area farmers, growers and artisans.
“We’re now very mission-driven; to not just bring people delicious and tasty food, that supports their local community and their local community farms, but to bring them food in a way that is processed healthy and safely,” Vandiver explains.
The Neighborhood Harvest partners with over 40 regional farms, dairies and artisan food and beverage makers in Virginia to deliver an array of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, eggs, dairy products, pasture-raised meats and craft beverages, in a healthy, safe and community-driven way.
In addition to the staples one would typically get at a grocery store, The Neighborhood Harvest has expanded to also offer dessert and prepared foods.
“We’ve always been kind of a health-centered company, but during this time with so many people asking us for comfort foods, who are we to tell people what they can and cannot eat?” says Vandiver.
Customers can now order Italian specialty dishes, made from scratch by former La Bella chef/owner, Andrea DiCarlo. Dishes include Andrea’s Meatballs, eggplant parmesan, lasagna Bolognese and more. Finish your meal with a slice of carrot cake or New York-style cheesecake.
All of the prepared foods are part of The Neighborhood Harvest’s Harvest Kitchen. These ready-to-eat meals come in two-person servings, allowing customers to enjoy restaurant-quality meals by simply heating up the food. Vandiver shares that there are plans to introduce other types of cuisine to the offerings of prepared foods. The Harvest Kitchen also has a number of deli items, snacks, seasonal soups and more.
Prior to the quarantine, The Neighborhood Harvest made about 2,500 deliveries per week. Currently, the company has twice as many customers, making nearly 5,000 deliveries per week, from Smithfield and Williamsburg to Virginia Beach and Hickory. Double the customers also means double the output.
To manage their new output, The Neighborhood Harvest hired restaurant workers, who were recently released from their jobs, to help at the packing facility and with delivery. For The Neighborhood Harvest, this was the perfect solution to the problem, as food service workers are already trained in food handling.
With health and safety at the forefront, The Neighborhood Harvest is closely following CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While the company has always followed safe food-handling practices, they have stepped up their sanitizing procedures around the clock at the farm and pack house, along with requiring their delivery drivers wear masks as well.
While the climate for food delivery has changed, what hasn’t changed is The Neighborhood Harvest’s commitment to the community. “We’re thankful that people have trusted us to bring food to their front doors in a way that’s safe, healthy and delicious,” Vandiver says.
Vandiver encourages customers to place reoccurring orders for items they know they’ll want on a weekly basis. This helps the bakers, growers and artisans, that The Neighborhood Harvest works with, to plan ahead.
The Neighborhood Harvest is currently waving the sign-up fee for new customers. Click here to get started and register for The Neighborhood Harvest. Use code “COVA2020” to take advantage of this offer and save $30.