The Dirt on Harvie Farms Pittsburgh’s Sourcing Standards

Harvie Farms Pittsburgh has done a lot of growing in the past year. As we scale this new model for local grocery distribution, we are faced with the exciting new challenge of meeting the full grocery needs of our 1500 customers while maintaining sourcing practices that align with our values and those of our customers. Today’s post comes from Harvie Founder and CEO, Simon Huntley, sharing his thoughts about that challenge along with the sourcing standards we’ve committed to for products in our Harvie Farms Pittsburgh Local Grocery Boxes.

The way we eat determines how our land is used and who our economy supports. Good food brings joy and health to our lives and those of the people we love. It shapes the way we connect with each  other and with the place we call home. 

I grew up in a rural community south of Pittsburgh, on the PA/WV border with very few job prospects beyond the dying coal industry. The central question of my work over the last 15 years is: how can a family make a living on the kind of rural farm where I grew up? If we can get this right — improving farm viability, strengthening rural economies, and prioritizing people who are not served by our current economic system — we can make this business, and your grocery dollars, a mechanism for powerful change. 

This business model began as a tool for small farms to sell their products to more customers by making their CSA / farm shares more consumer-friendly, but over time it has grown into a full local grocery delivery service. As more people join and buy a higher percentage of their weekly groceries from Harvie, it’s clear that we need to expand our product offerings.

We have a chance to build a revolution with our dinner plates in a way that fits into our daily lives. For me personally, I am eating significantly more local food year-round than I was in the past using CSA programs and farmers markets. In fact, this month I’m taking the #EatLocalJuly challenge and I’m going to eat exclusively from my Harvie box for an entire month. 

The work ahead for Harvie is how to develop a whole new supply chain that can support local, regional, and smaller producers, while ensuring our customers can rely on Harvie for all of their groceries. As we continue to expand our offerings, we are beginning to formalize our sourcing guidelines to steer our decision making. As we do this, we want to give you full transparency about how we choose what can go in your box. It’s important to us that your grocery spend goes directly to producers who are making the world a better place. We are passing along a higher percentage of your dollar (4 times more!) to the people behind your food than typical grocers.

How do we choose which products and producers to work with? We are always trying to improve, but today I want to share with you what we are thinking so far. We will stand on these principles in all of our sourcing:

Quality — We strive to source the best tasting, freshest, and most nutritious products.

Local Economy — We prioritize purchasing from business owners who have a direct connection to your community. When a product you need is not available locally, we’ll find the best version of it that we can according to our standards.

Good Stewardship — We work with producers who are good stewards of their land and animals. Whenever possible we will source from farmers who use organic and regenerative growing practices, and will always avoid those that abuse pesticides and the people and animals under their care.

Human Impact — As Harvie grows, we aspire to build relationships with producers that raise industry standards for transparency, living wages, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Viable Rural Communities — We strengthen rural economies by connecting rural producers with consumers in urban areas.

Story — We build connections between you and your producers by telling the stories behind the food and the people who create it and by inviting you to connect in person when possible.

Transparency — You deserve to know everything you can about what you put on your family’s kitchen table. We always label products accurately, verify certifications and tell you everything we can about the products you purchase.

Resilience — We believe in building a diverse network of producers and products and shortening the path between producer and consumer to create a more resilient community food system.

This is how we will ensure your grocery dollars have the most positive impact for your dinner table, your community, and our food system. And you can be a key part of shaping the next phase of this movement. If there’s something you want to eat that isn’t currently available on Harvie, let us know — our Facebook Community Group is a great place to post your thoughts, or feel free to send an email to support@harvie.farm. 

We have an exciting few months of local food coming your way — July, August, and September are the best months of the year for eating in Western PA. Get ready to fill your boxes with sweet corn, eggplant, and tomatoes. And on the grocery side of things, we will have crackers, pierogies, pitas, potato chips, dried fruit, nuts, and more snacks coming your way soon!

Thank you for being a part of the movement.

-Simon Huntley