A Blog post by
Brittany Gokalp

The Farm Box Story

September 14, 2020

We can all agree that this year has been met with unexpected challenges, fear and surprises. The COVID-19 Pandemic seemed to shake even the sturdiest foundations of what we know of normalcy and every day life. In a blink of an eye the world was turned upside down as people tried to grasp the slightest idea of what was going on. Stores were closed, parents became teachers, and the grocery store looked like a war zone. But somehow in the thick of it all, by the grace of God, beauty can rise out of ashes to give hope to the downcast soul.

This is how our story started. We believed that good food shared around the table is good for the soul. On our farm, we relish in what can be cultivated by the work of our hands and sweat of our brows. In the midst of chaos, we believed we could help people find purpose and somehow believe that all things work out for our good. Through a deep love for our community and our desire to help those affected by the pandemic, we launched a "socially safe farm box program".

This program provided people with fresh fruit and vegetable boxes to ease the stress of venturing into the grocery store. The program was wildly successful and popular in our community. The Soul Miner’s Eden 65 acre farm served as a pick up location for customers to receive their boxes. An offering of hands free pick up was established to ensure customers could stay in their car and feel as safe as possible. Smiling farm staff was on site to deliver the best customer experience and load cars with food boxes.

Not only was the farm box created to be a public service but it quickly grew into a lifestyle brand. We found that people actually wanted to enjoy the simpler things in life.  Through our farm to table style recipes, we wanted to encourage people slow down from their fast pace, fast food way of eating. Families began to cook together and actually eat at the dinner table. Each box contained an “unusual” ingredient that most people have never seen before. Recipes for that ingredient were made accessible through the Soul Miner’s website and weekly emails. Customers loved sharing their recipes with us on social! People were beginning to find some hope for their souls in a season of uncertainty.  

Unfortunately, our food box program only ran for 6 weeks until it was shut down due to the Athens Clarke County Municipal Code.  After being shut down by the local government, Soul Miner’s inbox was flooded with the disappointment of happy, loyal customers of the program. Many people offered to talk to the government officials on our behalf. Customers expressed how receiving their boxes was the highlight of their week. Many families would sneak out of quarantine to get some fresh air and produce. The customer feedback confirmed our passion of how a food box program can make a major positive impact on the community. Sadly, no longer able to continue, our staff at Soul Miner’s began to brainstorm a way to restart the program.

Coincidentally, Market Fresh, a local produce distributor, launched a similar program. Market Fresh was ideal for the operational growth of a farm box program. Outfitted with cooler space and delivery vehicles, they were able to add a convenient at home delivery service. For a small delivery fee, customers received their food box straight on their doorstep. As the country began to re-open and people were heading back to work, a pick up option became less convenient.

At the time, Market Fresh was purchasing Soul Miner’s premium lettuce mix to put into their farm box. As a relationship started to form, a business venture was in the making. Where Soul Miner’s was succeeding in community outreach, not in operations due to shut down, Market Fresh was thriving operationally but needed some help from a real farmer.

A business venture blossomed into what is being called Soul Miner’s Farm Box powered by Market Fresh to Go. The farm box is a joint venture between Soul Miner’s Greens and Market Fresh Produce. We feel there is still a great need and desire for a fresh food box. As times are still uncertain and the pandemic is still happening, people need a safe option for healthy fresh foods that supports their immune system and their new lifestyle change.

We are here to encourage you through food, family and a lifestyle that's simply just good for the SOUL!

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