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A food blog from NHPR news, digital, & programming staff, exploring food & food culture around the state & the New England region. On-air features air Thursdays on All Things Considered and Saturdays during Weekend Edition.

From Farm To...Desk? Plymouth Farmers Market Delivers Local Food To People At Work

Sean Hurley
Regina Rinaldo in the Local Foods Plymouth office.

Local Foods Plymouth has been connecting area residents with local farmers and bakers via their online farmer's market since 2006. Members can order meat, vegetables, bread, hot sauce, even hand-made soaps online and collect their goods at a local pick-up spot.  Last year, they made it even easier with a delivery service they call "Farm to Desk" as NHPR's Sean Hurley reports.

Friday, for Regina Rinaldo, is the day of the desks. As the project coordinator for Local Foods Plymouth, it’s the day she sets bags of farm fresh meats and vegetables directly on the desks of employees at more than 20 participating local businesses.

"You know most of the dollar is going to the farmer that's a crucial point in our mission."

Rinaldo loads up her truck and checks her delivery sheets.

Rinaldo loads her truck with hand-made English muffins from Mad River Roasters in Campton, pulled turkey from Huntoon Farm in Danbury and the hugely in demand hothouse tomatoes from Breezy Valley Farm in Rumney.

"That's a pretty hot item right now. People are really itching for greens."

While this personalized delivery service might seem high end for a farmer's market, Rinaldo says the organization didn't really have a choice.   Two years ago they began to feel their online market couldn’t remain sustainable.

They met with the community, brainstormed -

"And through some of those conversations, actually our current manager Grace Garvey, she tells the story as she was hanging laundry one day and she just came up with this idea. It just kind of popped into her head of this idea of farm to desk."

Rinaldo says the program has boosted business by a third.  

"Anyone can order. We also accept SNAP EBT. An annual membership fee for anybody is $50."

On a typical delivery day, Rinaldo will travel  to schools and businesses in Plymouth, Campton, Rumney, and Holderness.

Credit Sean Hurley
Delivering to the desk of librarian Beth Wilkie at Plymouth Elementary School.

Rinaldo's first stop is Plymouth Elementary School and her first delivery - to the desk of librarian Beth Wilkie.

"We really rely on it. I love getting the local wares without having to do the work of going to each one of the stores. I mean it just makes it so much more convenient. You know this is the most amazing way for me to get to explore what all of our local farmers provide."

Back in the truck and we're off for Speare Memorial Hospital.

"And then we meet in a very funny room, it's like the x-ray room!"

Nurse Mary Sampson has been a member of the Farm to Desk program since the beginning.

"But this is, this is a treat. Who wouldn't dream of somebody delivering their groceries?"

Credit Sean Hurley
Nurse Mary Sampson and her box of groceries.

From farm to desk, farm to library, even farm to x-ray room, Local Foods Plymouth is narrowing the distance between what grows in local fields and what appears on local tables.

Sean Hurley lives in Thornton with his wife Lois and his son Sam. An award-winning playwright and radio journalist, his fictional “Atoms, Motion & the Void” podcast has aired nationally on NPR and Sirius & XM Satellite radio. When he isn't writing stories or performing on stage, he likes to run in the White Mountains. He can be reached at shurley@nhpr.org.
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