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Monday, July 20, 2015

Farm to home

Business partners with local farmers to provide fresh delivery

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A pair of Shreveport entrepreneurs are turning their own employment adversities into a cash crop.

It was February when both Stephen and Rebecca Krefft lost their jobs due to the recent downturn in the oil and gas industry. But, instead of taking time off, the Kreffts quickly planted a seed that has grown into the online, grocery business: Delta Delivered, a farm-to-table delivery service.

Their business plan puts the focus on fresh produce supplied by local farmers, which is then delivered to the doorsteps of customers. The process all starts on their website, deltadelivered.com.

But this idea didn’t sprout up overnight, Rebecca explained.

“It was a combination of a lot of stuff,” she said, citing the recent surge in foodpicky consumers and similar businesses showing success in New Orleans, Lafayette and Austin, Texas.

She added: “There’s no reason to get food from 1,800 miles away.”

And that homegrown fact is how the Krefft’s business is catering to the food conscious. Because Delta Delivered uses only local farmers, the produce is picked the day it’s delivered. This means all produce is ripened on the vine, not in the back of a tractor-trailer traveling cross-country, Rebecca said.

“It’s a totally different type of food, if you’re eating local,” Rebecca said.

And that fresh take on home delivery is echoed by Elizabeth Cole. She does sales and marketing for Alexandriabased Inglewood Farm, one of Delta Delivered’s produce and meat suppliers.

“Everything that [the Kreffts] order from us, we harvest the day they order,” Cole said.

Like Delta, Inglewood Farm provides farm-to-table goods to businesses as well as individuals with a focus on clean and healthy food items.

Since beginning their delivery service, the Kreffts’ business has grown by leaps and bounds.

“We started out with 15 bags a week,” Rebecca said.

Now they’re delivering 45 bags a week.

The Kreffts are already getting calls to expand. Rebecca said a route to Monroe and West Monroe is under way with a possible run to east Texas in the works.

It’s an expansion that means opportunity.

“We can have more vendors out that way, because we’re always looking for more farmers,” she said.

Cole linked the success of Delta Delivered to knowledge.

“The No. 1 reason is because people want to know where their food is coming from,” Cole said.

To find that answer, all a customer needs to do is go on Delta Delivered’s website. There the business lists what items come from which farms. For example, a majority of the meat products come straight from Inglewood.

And Rebecca believes that information is important.

“We’re all about food that is natural and animals that are treated the way animals should be treated,” she said.

At Inglewood Farm, this treatment means the animals are truly free-range.

“Our animals are able to roam the pasture and eat what nature intends for them to eat,” Cole said.

Another supplier of Delta Delivered that also places a premium on clean and healthy foods is the family-owned Doodley Dee’s Farm in east Texas.

“I think people are becoming more and more aware of how bad our food is in general,” said Kevin Schmidt about the growing demand for all-natural produce.

Doodley Dee’s Farm uses aquaponic and hydroponic growing methods to curb the need for unnatural additives, like herbicides and pesticides.

Produce from Doodley Dee’s can be found in Delta Delivered’s market bags, a week’s worth of assorted seasonal fruits and vegetables. The bags come in small (one to two people), medium (three to four people), and large (five to six people.) The bags are also available as a subscription, meaning they can be delivered every week or less.

“Clean, good organic food on your doorstep is a great idea,” Schmidt said.

The Kreffts are gradually figuring out the in-and-outs of this great idea.

“It’s a great business for our skill set,” said Rebecca, who described herself as the business’ big thinker while Stephen is the logistical mind.

“Everyone is very happy with the service and very responsive,” Rebecca said.

–RT Morgan

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