Day 60: Doorganics

A typical delivery of fresh, pesticide free, veggies, courtesy of Mlive
[box size=”large” border=”full”]Why it’s awesome:  Fresh produce is delightfully delicious but can be difficult to acquire, unless you are able to frequent a local farmers market.  However, Doorganics has solved this dilemma by delivering fresh produce straight from the farm to your front door![/box]Produce is an extremely delicious and healthy part of the average diet, unless of course you are completely carnivorous.  In general, there are limited choices when it comes to obtaining your fruits and veggies.  You can either stop by your local super market, throwing mushy tomatoes and imported strawberries into your cart next to diapers and deodorant, or you can go to the farmers market.  Farmers markets offer greatly superior product, as the food often comes straight from the ground to the market.  The problem, however, comes from the lack of convenience. Some folks simply don’t have the ability to contort their schedule to match their local farmers market and therefore forego fresh produce for convenience.  However, thanks to Doorganics, you no longer have to choose between farmer’s market quality produce and convenience.

Mike Hughes making a delivery, courtesy of Mlive

Like many Americans, Mike Hughes desired to purchase locally grown produce, but found it difficult.  “Being a busy person, I was having trouble finding time to support local,” said Hughes, “and I figured there were other people who had the same issue.”  Nearly exactly one year ago, in July of 2010, Hughes began to think of a way to remedy this conundrum.  His solution was to partner directly with local farmers to deliver fresh produce directly to people’s doorsteps enabling people to purchase fresh, local produce regardless of their schedule.  After noticing a similar service in the majority of larger U.S. cities, Hughes decided to take it upon himself to bring such a service to Grand Rapids.  “We saw that it was a pretty viable opportunity,” Hughes said.

It was in March of this year that Hughes began to work toward making Doorganics a reality.  In April, Hughes was invited to an entrepreneur boot camp which helped him to plan the marketing strategy necessary to successfully launch the business.  The marketing strategy apparently worked as Doorganics has already seen phenomenal growth.  Officially launching in the beginning of July, they made 17 deliveries during the first week.  At the end of July, Doorganics had over 100 customers signed up to receive deliveries.  “I felt like Grand Rapids would get behind this idea,” Hughes said, “and we were right.”

One of the advantages of purchasing food from a farmers market is having the ability to meet the farmer and to know exactly where your food is coming from.  With Doorganics, while you might not be purchasing your produce directly from the hand of the farmer, you can rest assured knowing that the food in your basket comes from Ingraberg Farm, in Rockford. “We reached out to a number of farms back in March and April and Ingraberg Farm really saw our vision,” said Hughes.  “They got behind us and really believed in us.”  The food is picked up from Ingraberg Farm in the morning and delivered to customers the same day, ensuring it is as fresh as can be.

When ordering from Doorganics, you have the choice between a small produce bin ($29/week) or a large bin ($49/week).  Each bin consists of eight to ten different items, depending on what is in season.  The difference, however, lies in the volume of each item.  The small bin provides enough of each item to feed two/three people for at least one meal, whereas the large bin is intended to feed four/five people.  Rest assured, you won’t be forced to try to feed your family with a scant basket of goods.  “You don’t have to worry about getting like three carrots,” said Hughes.  “There will be sizeable quantities of each item in the bin.”

What if you aren’t going to be home to welcome the delivery driver when they bring you your goods?  Doorganics has thought of that!  When you first subscribe, you will be charged a $10 startup fee.  This fee covers not only the deliveries but the bin in which you will receive your delivery.  Between the hours of 3p.m. and 7p.m. your produce will be placed on your porch, or a different location that you specify, in a bin complete with reusable ice packs.  This ensures that your produce will stay fresh for between five and six hours.  On delivery day, “just put it out and we’ll do the rest,” said Hughes.

But what if you get an item that you don’t know how to use, like kale or Swiss chard?  Well, Doorganics has thought of that too!  There is a “recipe” section on the website, giving advice to customers less familiar with certain items.   Customers have also been posting their own recipes on Facebook.  “We are trying to interact with our customers and feature their recipes on our website,” said Hughes.  Additionally, they have partnered with Chef Tommy Fitzgerald of Cafe Stella who will record a video every week based upon that week’s basket, to ensure that you can have your produce and cook it too.

While Doorganics is currently receiving its product solely from Ingraberg Farm, they are in talks with other farms and have plans of including a shopping cart feature where you can order beef, chicken, lamb, poultry, eggs, and cheese from various farms.  The weekly produce basket delivery will remain unchanged.  “You can kind of look at that as a subscription based service,” said Hughes, with the new options providing variety to your order.

For those unable to make it to farmers markets due to busy schedules, family obligations, or transportation difficulties, Mike Hughes and Doorganics are here to help.  Getting fresh veggies has never been so easy, though it is still up to you to figure out how to disguise kale so your children will eat it.  May I recommend the “kale chips” recipe posted on Doorganics’ website? And, while you’re there, sign up to get your first bin delivered!

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The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: alex@awesomemitten.com