As the demand for fresh, local produce in the community rises, and community members become more conscious of the foods they eat, local food merchants search for new ways to satisfy the demand.
Hamilton resident Paul Falcigno thinks he has found a way: his company, Harvest Routes.
Felcigno said Harvest Routes is trying to go beyond the typical CSA system, where community members purchase shares of produce from a local farm and pick up the produce as it is harvested.
“We’re realizing that the demand [for local, fresh produce] is so much greater than the local farmers are able to support because right now the consumers are required to go to the farm,” he said. “Harvest Routes is taking that next step of bringing the food to the customer and erasing that hurdle.”
For $35 per customer per week, Harvest Routes delivers harvest baskets of fresh produce and one dozen free-range eggs to homes in Princeton Borough and Hamilton Square and to drop-off locations at Crossfit in Trenton, Robbinsville and Princeton; Lululemon Athletica in Princeton; and Gratitude Yoga in Princeton. Participating farms include Chesterfield Harvest CSA in Chesterfield, Home On the Range Family Farm in New Egypt, International Roasting Post in Hightstown and Woodworking Barn at Rajays Farm in Cranbury.
Depending on the season, fresh produce includes mustard greens, herbs, spinach, peas, lettuce, string beans, onions, peppers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, corn, watermelon, winter squash, turnips, parsley and greens. And, for extra fees, Harvest Routes has “add on” foods, including grass-fed ground beef and coffee, which can be added to one’s delivery.
“It’s incredible the amount of vegetables I get,” said Harvest Routes subscriber and East Windsor resident Mark Pellecthia. “I actually share some with my neighbors.”
Harvest Routes also has flexible subscription options.
“You can also go biweekly, so you don’t need to get so many vegetables,” Pellecthia said. “And if I decide I don’t want to receive a delivery one week, I can defer the delivery… And for anyone that wants to try it once, you can get a one-time delivery basket.”
A major objective of Harvest Routes is to educate its subscribers as to where their food comes from.
“We have a page on the website that features a farm,” Falcigno said. “So we provide a story about the farm, which includes quotes from the farmers … And we have a page called full consciousness. So, as a consumer, being fully conscious of where your food is coming from, and there you will see little blurbs about our farmers and suppliers.”
And, such educational information has rubbed off on Harvest Routes customers. After becoming a Harvest Routes subscriber, Pellecthia said he started researching the nutrients and vitamins in the vegetables, and passed the information on to family members.
The sustainable practices of farmers partnering with Harvest Routes are not to be confused with the supposed sustainable methods used to create foods sold in grocery stores, Falcigno said.
“When we say free-range [eggs], [the chickens are] actually outside,” he said. “Whereas, with USDA standards, if you cut a hole in the side of the building, you can say that these chickens had the option to go outside and be free-range.”
And although foods produced at farms partnering with Harvest Routes are not certified organic, their partnering farmers use Armory, or organically certified, products.
Harvest Routes marketing intern Ali Tomlinson, a Hamilton resident, said food is at its best when it’s fresh picked, like the produce provided by Harvest Routes.
“There’s no comparison between the grocery store and Harvest Routes,” she said. “It’s two different worlds. And when people taste that difference, they won’t ever go back.”
For more information, go online to harvest-routes.com.