Over 10 years ago, Donna Williams moved to the Hudson Valley from New York City, and was inspired to create a reliable outlet for local farms to sell their products directly to consumers, called Field Goods.
In 2018, the company Hudson Harvest partnered with Field Goods with the idea of expanding the geographic scope, product base and customer base of the original brand.
“What Donna built is a fantastic foundation for a direct-to-consumer platform of local food and so we’re just expanding off of that,” said Michael Waterman, chief executive officer of Hudson Harvest.
Since their partnership began, Hudson Harvest became the largest locally-focused provider of local food both through wholesale and the Field Goods direct-to-consumer portion of the company. They sell a mix of produce, dairy, grocery and meat, and according to Mr. Waterman, they split sales between produce, grocery and meat evenly.
Mr. Waterman added that Hudson Harvest and Field Goods sources from farms in the region and only sources out-of-state for particular items like avocados and limes. The closest farm that Hudson Harvest sources from is Hepworth Farms in upstate Milton.
In the beginning days of the pandemic, Field Goods experienced a rapid week-long revamping of the company.
“When the pandemic hit, we basically did what amounts to an emergency launch of a brand-new company,” Kim McLean, who works with the pickup locations, supplying marketing and promotional programs for Field Goods.
Mr. McLean said that prior to the pandemic, Field Goods’ ordering system relied on community-based pickups mainly through local libraries. He added that up until March, Field Goods was working with 100 libraries.
When libraries closed, the company was forced to switch from group pickup locations to individual home delivery. Mr. Waterman said that the fixed route for weekly deliveries, which went to approximately 600 locations, quickly had to be adjusted.
Mr. Waterman added that their customer base has also changed since the onset of the pandemic. Mr. Waterman said that people using the Field Goods service were mainly in their mid-40s and ordering for their families. Now, he said there has been an influx of younger customers. Mr. Waterman thinks the switch might reflect an influx of younger couples moving to the area from the city. He also said the company’s group pickup sites were largely targeting older customers.
“While we are definitely focused on local agriculture, I think the consumer did want the safety and convenience of home deliveries as a priority along with fresh and local,” Mr. McLean said.
Field Goods has rolled out a promotional program to incent residents to place Field Goods orders directly to their homes, while still giving back to the local library. The Community Counts program promotes home deliveries to each library’s group pickup site member base. As people order home deliveries using a promotional coupon, the customer would get $20 off their order and Field Goods would donate that amount to the library.
As libraries began reopening again several months into the pandemic, Field Goods altered their promotions in order to promote library reopenings. The Welcome Back program lets customers use the same discount code for pick ups at local libraries, generating the discount off every order and a $20 library donation.
Mr. McLean said Field Goods has been focused on building its distribution through libraries for over five years. “It’s one of our strongest niches,” Mr. McLean said.
Lewisboro Library is one of their most successful pickup sites, he noted.
“Lewisboro residents are the people who use field goods most and best,” Mr. McLean said.
In the past year, Mr. McLean said Field Goods donated around $1,000 to the Lewisboro Library as a result of its promotional programs.
Field Goods also uses Pound Ridge Library, Bedford Free Library and Bedford Hills Library as pick up locations. Mr. McLean said the Lewisboro Library and Pound Ridge Library are both in the Welcome Back portion of the promotion, while libraries in the Town of Bedford continue to use the Community Counts promotion.
Cynthia Rubino, the director of the Lewisboro Library, said the library has acted as a Field Goods pick up location since 2016. Ms. Rubino added that in typical years, the library raises $600 o $700 in Field Goods donation. The boost to this past year’s total mainly resulted from the company’s home delivery promotional programs.
Ms. Rubino said that customers who began using Field Goods during quarantine with home delivery have now switched to using the library as a pick up location, bringing more customers to the library.
“We feel that we are promoting healthy eating by making fresh produce easily available for pick up for our library patrons and our staff,” Ms. Rubino said.
Ms. Rubino is a user of the Field Goods service herself and highlighted some of her favorite aspects of the program. “I personally have enjoyed trying new cheeses from some of the cheese makers,” the library director said. “They have a nice selection.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Waterman said they are looking into partnering with corporations and other pick up sites as part of a broader focus on wellness. For example, he said that Field Goods is looking into promotions where a corporation will cover part of a gym membership based on how much that customer spends at Field Goods.
Mr. McLean added that a former senior at Valhalla High School, who partnered with Field Goods to make her own public pickup site, inspired the company to replicate the student’s initiative. In the future, Field Goods hopes to provide students with a community service opportunity to set up Field Goods pickup sites at schools in the area.