With hectic work schedules and busy family lives, it can often be hard for the average person to find time to do their weekly grocery shop. Enter Nature’s Garden Express, an organic food delivery platform that allows people to place their grocery orders online and get them delivered to their porch or a co-op the next week. Nature’s Garden Express is providing an easy, healthy and sustainable way to mark off a tedious task from a to-do list.
Michael Kirk and Scott Frishman, two Auburn University alumni, started Nature’s Garden Express in 2009. The pair’s meeting their freshman year of college was a happy accident, thanks to a mix-up in dorm assignments. Kirk had mistakenly been placed in the Honors college dorms, across the hall from Frishman.
“Auburn quickly realized [their] mistake and Michael was transferred to another dorm on the quad, but the damage was done, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Frishman said.
After Kirk worked for an organic produce company in Colorado, he and Frishman got to talking about how there were no similar services in the Southeast and about the difficulty of finding organic food in the area.
The two decided to start a service based out of Atlanta that set out to change this. They launched their organic food delivery business in 2009, right in the midst of the Great Recession. With banks offering limited loans and people scaling back on spending, the start to the company required a lot of hard work, persistence and “sweat equity.”
“We spent every waking hour working, delivering produce out of the trunks of our cars, packing the produce in a garage, storing goods in our living room,” Frisman said. “And when we weren’t working, we put on backpacks and walked door to door passing out fliers. One-hundred hour weeks were the norm.”
Fast-forward six years and Nature’s Garden Express now sends out food to 13,000 customers, and their service is continuing to expand. The company has added additional organic foods to their menu, which now has about 750 products including herbs and spices, wild-caught seafood, free range eggs and fair trade coffee. These foods change weekly and reflect the produce that is in-season.
“As we’ve met more and more producers utilizing sustainable practices, we’ve added more and more products to our selection,” Frishman said.
The company will soon have more than just an online business, as their brick-and-mortar store is set to open early this December in the Krog Street Market in Atlanta. The store will be multi-purpose, serving as a co-op, a grocery store and a juice bar, which will feature cold-press juices and smoothies.
Nature’s Garden Express currently serves residences in a 50-mile radius around Atlanta, but it will soon start working with Periship, a company that specializes in shipping perishable goods. This will allow them to serve the entire Southeast in the near future.
The ordering and delivery process is straightforward. Initially, a customer needs to make a profile. They can then choose from four sizes of boxes, ranging from Mini to Large, depending on how many groceries are needed for the week. They can also decide the type of box they want, which includes Mixed, Fruit, Veggie, Local Only or a Build-a-box. If changes or alterations need to be made, a buyer can do so up until 10 a.m. the day before their delivery.
A customer then places a cooler in a designated spot and ordered groceries will be waiting for them when they get home. The next week, any leftover material, such as egg cartons or old boxes will be picked up and recycled. To save on delivery costs, members can opt to pick up boxes from a local co-op. As long as there are four boxes being delivered to the same location, a co-op can be formed, allowing buyers to receive a discount.
Kirk and Frishman are using their business as a platform to give back to the community. In the past year, they’ve donated more than 100,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to local food banks and churches. Oftentimes, this produce can’t be sold because it will have slight blemishes, but it is still fresh and healthy to eat.
“When we started this company, we wanted to do something good for the community, so donating to the food bank aligned with this goal,” Frishman said. “…As you tour the local food bank, you’ll notice they get donations from many places and it is primarily pallets of expired or damaged junk food. They get very little fresh “real” food, so our donations are very important to them. We feel everyone should have access to healthy food options.”[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]