Three River Farmers Alliance has been around since 2014, which is definitely not news to its loyal clients. But like most businesses in 2020, this one was not unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic; you might even say it was just the opposite.
Serving parts of New Hampshire, southern Maine, and the North Shore of Massachusetts, the Alliance was originally created by four founders and the farms they represent (Kate Donald of Stout Oak Farm, Greg Balog and Andre Cantelmo of Heron Pond Farm, and Josh Jennings of Meadow’s Mirth). Together, these farmers lead a network of vegetable growers, cheesemakers, livestock farmers, bakers, local food artisans, and more.
Originally coming together to deliver food to restaurants and farmers’ markets, this was a business that needed an overhaul when the country came to a near standstill in March of this year. Rising to the incredible challenge, the Alliance did what so many businesses had to do if they had any hope of staying open and afloat, which was to reinvent themselves—nearly overnight.
And so the Three River Farmers Alliance direct to consumer home delivery service was born.
Quite literally driven by a need to get the food (which they had abundant access to) into the hands of people who wanted it, the group decided they would offer the same kind of access and delivery to the general public that they had previously been providing to restaurants and farmers’ markets pre-pandemic.
The concept worked because they were fiercely determined, and also because they "had the model in place,” explains Kate Donald, one of the Alliance’s founding farmers. “While we only had one refrigerated box truck at the start, we were able to add more and currently we have five trucks on the road throughout the week with the capacity to expand,” she says.
As we head into the colder months, Donald and the rest of the team are more aware than ever of the desire customers will have for food delivery that can be managed in a convenient and safe way. With a user friendly online ordering system and accounts that customers can manage online, it’s a familiar format for consumers, especially those who have placed online grocery orders over the past several months with more frequency.
Establishing and maintaining good relationships and working together is so important to all of the farmers and artisans who come together under the Three River Alliance umbrella. During a time when support of local businesses is downright critical, Donald wants customers to know that their support directly benefits the local agriculture and community, helping to ensure that farmers can continue to do what they do best.
Donald says one of the aspects that appeals most to customers, and one that she wants prospective customers to know, is that “all of the food you order is packed to order by the farmers. If you order arugula, we are harvesting it specifically for your order.”
“We are able to offer a really nice diversity of products to customers,” says Donald, who likens the experience to “being able to go to a farmers’ market without having to leave your house.” Much like shopping at a market, you will know exactly where the food you purchased is coming from—the online system even allows customers to shop by specific farm, cheese company, or creamery, of which more than 50 participate.
No matter the season, we are fortunate to live in an area where we have access to fresh, locally sourced food that in turn supports our communities, and it’s hard to put a price on that.
For more information, visit threeriverfa.com.