As many of you know, I got into the produce box model with the help of Dave Wolpin, who had been doing this for over a decade. He passed on his processes to me and I’ve adapted them a bit according to the mission of LifeDirt and the partners that we have developed since starting in 2021.
So how does all this produce end up together in a box on your doorstep?
We start with our partner farms. I receive product lists from the Maritime farms that we work with, and generally first order what’s available from our smallest and closest producers before moving onto the farms that are larger and/or farther away.
Some items get delivered to us at the warehouse space that we rent from Stirling’s Market in Saint John, and others I pick up between Saint John and Dieppe. Sometimes there’s a step in between, when items get shipped from PEI to Moncton, or get picked up in Nova Scotia by our friend Serge from Ferme Les Digues.
When we need something extra in the boxes, I order these imported fruits and/or veggies from Mirage Foods in Sussex.
Subscriptions are incredibly helpful to us as we have to order large amounts of produce at a time, and it is a lot easier to know how much to order when we have most of our boxes pre-ordered!
During the week, we pick up used banana boxes from local grocery stores and collect the boxes that our produce arrives in. These are what we use to pack our produce boxes.
Once everything has arrived at the warehouse, we weigh out and bag the items that require it. For example, we usually bag our leafy greens so that they are not limp by the time they reach you. We use paper bags for things like potatoes and mushrooms that don’t need to be kept as moist. Next, we set out the cardboard boxes in the warehouse and, in an assembly line, put every item into the boxes, one item at a time. Large boxes first, then add ons and swaps, then the same thing for small boxes and special orders.
The next morning, I pick up our fresh sourdough bread from East Coast Bistro, and get to the warehouse to add our final add-ons to the boxes that need them. Our delivery companies, HAL Deliveries & Todd’s Delivery Service, arrive and whisk away our boxes to Hampton and Grand Bay, Uptown Saint John and Grand Manan*!
Customer pickups happen that same day during set hours at Stirling’s Market. And that’s it from our end! Once customers have received their boxes, the rest of the magic is theirs to create.
*Our Grand Manan orders this fall are going out the week after produce boxes get packed, due to a scheduling conflict