This post was updated on 5/11/15. Click here for the new version.
Matt Flood wants to make it easy for you to eat organic food. In fact, he’ll bring it to your front door.
Matt is the operations manager for Suburban Organics, an Ottsville business that delivers 100% certified organic produce weekly to people’s door steps. It’s a year round business with nearly 1000 customers from the Delaware Valley, the Lehigh Valley, all of New Jersey and northern Delaware. During the local growing season 95% of their produce comes from within 100 miles of Bucks County, including many local farms. In the winter, the organic produce comes from the West Coast and beyond. If buying 100% organic is your priority, it doesn’t get any easier – or cost effective-because their prices are competitive with stores like Whole Foods.
Suburban Organics is an example of the growth of unique distribution channels for getting local, high quality produce into consumers’ hands. Other channels include ones you are probably familiar with first hand: farmers’ markets and farm stands, community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms, winter CSAs, like Winter Sun Farms and door-to-door delivery services, like Suburban Organics. It’s all part of a growing regional food supply system that gets stronger every year.
When you join Suburban Organics you have many choices. You can have a weekly share, or one that comes every other week (good for small households). Then you choose the size of the box you wish to receive. “Little” boxes cost $25/week, small boxes are $39, medium boxes are $46 and a large mixed produce box costs $54. Boxes can be all vegetable, all fruit or mixed produce. To give you an idea of how much you get, here’s this week’s “little” box contents: garlic (2), Bartlett pears (2), cucumber (1), baby peeled carrots (1), Yukon Gold potatoes (1.5 lb.), romaine lettuce (1), bananas (4), navel oranges (2) and Fuji apples (2). And that’s the “little” box.
Each box ranges in the number of fruit types and vegetables varieties: the “little” box comes with 4-5 fruit types and 4-5 veggie varieties, and the large box with 7-9 fruit types and 8-10 veggie varieties. The amount of each item in the assortment depends on the size of your order. They have a great website that will even help you figure out which box size is right for your needs.
Every Friday customers receive an email with the menu, or box contents, for the coming week. You can make up to five substitutions for the order any time up to 8 am on the day before your delivery. Deliveries are Tuesdays through Fridays and are scheduled by geographical area. You don’t even have to be home to receive the box. Many customers put a cooler outside for the delivery. What’s also nice is that the service can be put on hold at any time and there is no commitment. They typically see a drop in orders during the summer months when customers go to CSAs and farmers’ markets, but a turn up in orders in the fall and winter months. Suburban Organics also offers a “co-op” option. Get four or more people together to place orders at one location – say at an office – and you’ll get a discount for everyone.
Suburban Organics began back in 1997 as a New Jersey company and was bought by its current owner, David Gersenson, in August 2010. Matt Flood, the operations manager and “Produce Guru,” and Chuck Minguez, the office manager and Customer Service “master”, spoke to me about the company. Though they were originally based in Moorestown, NJ, they moved to Ottsville in October 2010 and now employ thirteen including packers and drivers. Matt says a typical day at their warehouse begins at 4:30 am when packing of that day’s deliveries starts. By 6:00 am the first driver has pulled up for his delivery boxes and every 15 minutes after that another driver loads up for his route. Drivers will return to the warehouse by 4:30 or 5 pm, some from as far away as northern New Jersey. Produce is delivered to the warehouse every Monday and Wednesday so it’s fresh when it goes into the boxes, which by the way, are made from sustainably forested cardboard.
Right now the company is going through an organic certification of their own. Even though all of their food is organic, they decided to go the extra mile and become an organic “processor.” After this process is complete, there are big plans to expand their offerings into other organic food, like dry and canned goods. They already sell coffee from Homestead Coffee Roasters in Upper Black Eddy and Next organic dark chocolate. They also have plans to increase the number of local farms to source their produce. Currently Blooming Glen Farm in Perkasie, Barefoot Gardens in Doylestown and Blue Moon Acres in Buckingham all supply them with high quality vegetables. For a list of farms, far and wide, that they source from, see the “Meet Our Farmers” page on their website.
They also believe that education is part of the service they provide. Recipes are included with each Friday’s email. An interesting variety of produce is offered, not just the basics. The “Learn” section of their website gives background information on all things organic, including Ten Reasons to Choose Organic. In their own words,
The ‘Learn’ section of our site is to provoke everyone to think a bit about what’s going on here on earth. We want you to question where your food comes from and how it’s grown. We want to share how economically and emotionally good it is to support your neighbors. We want you to know why eating Brussels sprouts is good for your health and how to cook them to taste good on your palate. We want people to care and to help make every day better.
You can learn more about Suburban Organics at their website or give Chuck a call at 484.833.1100 to ask any questions. He’d love to hear from you.
8039 Easton Road
Suburban Organics is offering a discount of $10 off the first box for Bucks County Taste readers. Just put the code “BucksCountyTaste” in when you sign up for your first order here.