DU Alumni

Grilling society founders start farm-to-consumer business

It was as founders of the DU Grilling Society that Nick Phelps (BSBA ’09) and Jason Lundberg (BSAC ’10, MBA ’10) began to learn the lessons that led them to starting a food-related company after graduation.

“We learned a lot about local sourcing and a lot about food in general beyond just hot dogs and hamburgers,” Phelps says. “We realized the benefits of things like supporting local economies and building upon your relationship with where your food comes from. And while we really never got the chance to incorporate those beliefs into how we ran the grilling society, it was a great life lesson.”

The two have turned that life lesson into a business, From the Farmer, which delivers fresh produce straight from local farms to customers in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Since launching two years ago, the company has introduced around 500 subscribers to the joy of knowing exactly where their food comes from.

“We live in a society today where you know your banker, you know your stylist, you know your barista, but you never really know where your food comes from, and that seems backward in my mind,” Phelps says. “What’s really important and what really sets you up for your life is what you put into your body.”

Working with three family-run farms in the D.C. area, plus a bakery and other prepared food providers, From the Farmer delivers once a week, milkman-style, dropping off boxes full of fresh fruits and veggies, plus — depending on the season — bread, cheese, jam and butter. All the produce, Phelps says, has been harvested and delivered within 48 hours and often within 24.

“As our society has caught on with this local food movement, people are getting excited about where their food is coming from, learning a lot more about that, and we’ve been able to really capitalize on that,” says Phelps, who periodically invites customers to visit the farms where their food is grown.

In 2013, Phelps and Lundberg hope to see their customer base in D.C. increase to around 1,000 a week. They also are considering expansion into other cities, including Denver. And when their next big idea hits, there’s a chance it will be centered around food as well.

“We love the idea of what happens with food. Everything is centered around food: It’s something that’s at a social event and gathers people together,” Phelps says. “Both of us are all about gathering people around us. We really enjoy that. So if we can do that and bring food and wine and beer and all those other great things into the conversation, what could be better?”

 

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