Gail Brussel – My Farm Share

Having grown up down the road from a farm stand, it only seems natural that she would end up in Community Supported Agriculture, or “CSA” for those in the know.  Right out of college, Gail Brussel started working in book publishing in the PR department but with the birth of her first child quickly went freelance.  On the weekends, she and her husband, took the baby to farmer’s markets over a half hour away to purchase local and organic fruits and veggies.  They wanted only direct-from-the-farm foods but the pick-up for the closest CSA program was even farther away.

Driving that far for groceries in Westchester traffic became unreasonable and too difficult to fit into her new life with children.  What now?  Gail and her husband realized that they weren’t the only ones in her town that wanted to be locavores (eat locally grown foods).  They had a thought. Why not help their family and friends and help the local farms at the same time by offering a delivery service?

Gail hit the road and talked with multiple farmers until she found one that “got it.”  Most farmers were overwhelmed by the idea of a delivery system but Zaid Kurdieh, of Norwich Meadows Farm in upstate New York, realized what an opportunity it would be to supply multiple homes, four hours away, with a box of the recent harvest each week.  It made sense and cents, extra income for his farm.

The timing was terrible.  Gail was six months pregnant, had a four year old, was working with six clients in her full time job, had a broken rib, and her husband had just taken a more rigorous job.  But she thought, It’s now or never.

She offered a box of locally grown in-season vegetables designed for 2 people or a family of 4 with small children, each week on a subscriber basis.  And not only that, included in the box were the nutritional details of the items and a recipe helping recipients use the fresh delivery in a way they may not have thought of.  And as an extra bonus and drawing on her past book publishing career, Gail included a poem with each box and sometimes a note from the farmer.  The literary piece might be about the actual food or the season but it adds a touch of personality to each week’s delivery.

At first, Gail used milkmen to make the deliveries but as her business grew through their website, she hired a distribution company to assist.  Starting with friends and family as her first customers, word quickly spread and some key press helped her triple in her second year.  Now up and running for 5 years, delivers to over 350 families in Manhattan, Westchester County NY and Fairfield County CT, with plans to expand into New Jersey in 2012.

“I feel I’m making a difference not only in the lives of the families who are experiencing the taste of real untreated foods, but also in supporting the local farms.”  Hitting her stride during a time when the world is moving to organically grown foods, Gail feels lucky that she has created a venture that has such potential for growth.  She’s thinking about adding local honey to her line up and possibly locally roasted coffee.  Currently MyFarmShare is taking orders for winter shares which include the perfect ingredients for savory soups and stews along with farm-made products like pickles and jam.

And the food?  She’s a convert, forgetting how a tomato really tasted at that farm stand in her home town, Gail was used to tomatoes that had been treated and shipped from 1000s of miles away, picked before they were ripe, grown in a hot house, and treated with chemicals.  Now when she has a local tomato she knows it and so does everyone else getting the weekly box from My Farm Share.   What could be better?


VentureMom Tip

Even if your personal timing isn’t perfect, the timing for a venture may take precedence. 

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