As cabin fever continues across the metro, many local food lovers are signing up for community supported agriculture programs and eagerly looking forward to this year's farmers markets.
That mentality created ideal timing for a recent Living Social sign-up offer from Twin Cities Local Food
, an online marketplace and food delivery system that pairs local consumers and growers. Now entering its second year, the company used the deal-making site to offer a discount on its usual membership price, and was rewarded with a stunning surge in new memberships. Within only four days, the firm sold all of those discounted memberships.
"We were amazed, it was a really intense couple of days, and we had no idea it would take off like that," says co-founder Josh Kelly, who started the venture with his wife, Natalie. He left the corporate world to pursue his dream of providing fresh, healthy food to the local community, and after slow-but-steady growth last year, it already looks like they'll need to expand infrastructure to meet demand.
With the Twin Cities Local Food model, farmers and producers of other goods like honey and maple syrup benefit because they can directly market, sell, and package their own products, but skip distribution. Customers can order online weekly and then pick up their food at one of the company's drop-off sites in locations like South Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan, and Osseo.
The model has been tried in other states, but so far, Twin Cities Local Food is the only business of its kind here. From the recent reaction to the Living Social deal, it's obvious that demand is strong. As the farming season gears up, it's likely that more new memberships and referrals will be on the way.
Kelly says, "It felt really good to see so much interest and enthusiasm, not just for us, but for local food. Healthy, whole, real food is getting the attention it deserves, and that's bound to drive growth for us."
Source: Josh Kelly, Twin Cities Local Food
Writer: Elizabeth Millard