2 years ago, Andrew and I took a chance. We had a vision and a mission greater than us both to inspire others to live mindfully, eat healthy, and thrive; all while sustaining our local, clean food sources. Between the sad grocery store options and the overpriced big box specialty stores, there was real need for an affordable, convenient, and CLEAN local food service to fill the gaps in our small town food desserts. We planted a seed in the form of a facebook page to gauge interest, and with hundreds of people signing up in the first month, the rest is history!
Since then, and with the limited resources we have, we began to build this community we dreamed of. In a world where convenience trumps most everything else, we knew that we had a hurdle to jump when competing with the convience of a conventional grocery store where you can shop when you think about it and needed to encourage consumers to, instead, purchase their groceries online, directly from their local farmers. There were a few local CSAs and Co-Ops that offered pre-determined boxes of produce each week, but we saw first hand that while consumers WANTED to help support local clean food, if it wasn’t easily accessable, readily available, and customizable to their needs, then the grocery store would see their business instead.
How could we grow and make this movement work for both our farmers and consumers?
Within a few months of creating the club, we realized another hurdle that needed to be cleared before achieving our goal. Most of these CSAs and Co-Ops are still using excel spreadsheets for ordering and, while there were a couple software options available to them(one that we used), they were no where near an economical or convenient way of taking a substantial number of orders for either the consumer or us running the club! We needed to make the shopping experience feel more familiar to other shopping carts online, while still handling specific buying club scenarios like “splitting cases”, sorting orders by location and basically handling all backend sales reporting. With our own personal savings, as well as money loaned from family members, we paired with an incredible designer to create a first of it’s kind software! Dirt Road Organic’s software, while not yet available for outsiders, will allow more buying clubs to easily pop up around the country. The sales from that use will help our local outreach, as well, with things like educational classes, money for our farmers to get CNG certification, and funds to help our local growers expand to supply the ever growing demand of local CLEAN food!
So, what happened? Why do we need your help now?
Like we mentioned before, this mission and vision is so much bigger than ourselves and what we can do as individuals. We have worked this for 2 years now, and each month we learn something new about both ourselves and our members. We have grown this club to 1600 members on our mailing list! Last August, we moved from our itty bitty sorting location in Valdosta, to a larger sorting facility in Woodbine, Ga. This move was necessary for growth, but came with more overhead. We were able to sublet the other side of our building, but due to personal financial issues of their own, the tenants were unable to pay rent for nearly 5 months at the beginning of this year. This set us back on our marketing campaign funds, as well as kept us from ordering our merchandise. Spring time is everything for a food business, and I believe not being able to take advantage of that season with advertising kept us from reaching our goal of serving 200 families a week with our Buying Club service.
Then in May, we got hit hard, and at the worst time it could happen. Our trailer’s axle broke, the walk-in unit at our facility went out(destroying our yogurt inventory), we had TWO generators for our refrigerated trailer bite the dust, our ac unit needed a major repair, we blew out 2 tires in 2 weeks(needed 4 new tires), we had a freezer full of meat go out on us, and all of this while sales were down when summer breakers went on vacation! This broke us, I’ll be honest. We personally front the funds for inventoried items like meats, yogurts, and dry goods, but those 6 weeks of bad luck drained us and now, we are not in a position to hold this up alone, financially. We are now out of yogurt, nearly out of meat and many other items and we have no funds to restock. We had already talked about getting our members involved in a GoFundMe to help us reach our next goal of offering “Dinner Boxes”, like Blue Apron’s Fresh Box or something similar, but instead be filled with fresh organic LOCAL ingrediants. With this new, immediate need, we have decided to go ahead and ask for help now. This service to our community rides on it.
We are asking that current members, or anyone else who feels that heart string tug to support local agriculture, local business, and the slow food movement, to step up today to help us make a difference!
Our goal from the very beginning has been to make it as easy as possible to get clean local foods on your tables. We have put so much of our hearts and of our time into creating this, and I just don’t have it in me to quit! If there is a way to keep this momentum up, I must go after it. I feel like we are “right there!” We have come so far in these last 2 years and I know Dirt Road Organics will be a huge blessing to our community in years to come, if we will just give it the chance to bounce back from this hard time.
If you can help us make this dream a reality, we will be forever grateful! We have created some special incentives for those who are able help us out financially. Please give what your heart leads you to.
We love our DRO family so much and hope we can see you all again at a pickup or delivery location soon! <3
Estimated fund allocation:
$12,000 inventory (inventory for buying club, boxed dinners and markets. We plan to add many more Georgia vendors!)
$4,000 overhead expense for 2 months(cushion while we grow)
$5,000 marketing (radio is $3k, $2k in print ads/brochures in all markets)
$2,000 merchandising and market displays
$1,000 materials to start “boxed dinners”
$1,000 to finish our second refrigerated trailer
= $25,000 total
Immediate needs and what we need to begin taking orders again:
The most immediate need is for us to place a meat order with Marview Farms. We have closed ordering until then, because we simply cannot afford to serve our members again until we can offer meats. Statistically, sales are MUCH better when meats are in stock, and we if can’t meet our sales goals, we can’t take care of our overhead.
Boxed Dinners (ie Blue Apron, Fresh Box, etc)– On top of the usual Buying Club offerings, we want to bring a local option for “Boxed Dinners” too! We did a member poll last week that shows the demand, and it won’t take much more than what we are doing now, other than more inventory, to supply it! We know there are many families who can’t find the time needed to meal plan, and we want them to have access to all the beautiful local goodies too! Let us meal plan for you! We will send you home with everything you need to make a delicious, nutritious and “wow” worthy home cooked meal in minutes! You will be able to choose from 1, 2 or 3 meal options at prices as low as $9 per serving.
DRO Education- We have always wanted to use Dirt Road Organics, LLC as a way to help educate our local community. From things like eating seasonally, to proper nutrtition, to how to throw a meal together in 30 minutes or even just basic knife skills, we can help you learn it! We have some pretty amazing, talented, and intelligent members and I like to imagine this community where our members teach classes weekly in different locations throughout our area. We want to encourage community involvement and fellowship, and I think education is the key.
Click here to visit our GoFundMe Fundraiser page
“Today, we received our first delivery! Everything about the ordering process was easy as can be! The milk, yogurts, eggs, and oranges have already been nibbled on and sipped and all the yum!! I wish I had gotten the name of the woman who delivered our stuff. She was super friendly and really helpful with a question I had. Next week, we get our produce order I
placed and I’m so excited!! This is such a great way to get all the local organics all from one spot! The prices are way reasonable, too! I don’t know what genius is behind this idea here in SE Georgia, but mazel tov to you! I wish I had thought of this myself! Thanks, ladies and gents! We look forward to seeing you again and again! -Bernadette Yates
Love these guys! They deliver delicious food to my home and that saves me time. I love it and
I am not gonna lie, it’s a little like Christmas when they come to visit. Fantastic customer
service, a great variety and many local products available. I HIGHLY recommend them to
everyone I know. -Tammy Johnson Fluech
I have been very happy with everything I have ordered. Any questions or concerns that arise are handled promptly and professionally. Ordering and pick up are very convenient. I am happy to have this resource available to help my family eat healthier. – Kim Good
Received my first order today and it was great! Everything looks so fresh and has beautiful color. Had the chard for dinner, it was awesome. Looking forward to fixing all the other goodies I bought. Will definitely order again. – Carol Clifford Garrity
Great produce and friendly service! They respond very fast to emails and the online ordering system is a breeze to use. If you order something that’s not available, it shows up as a credit
on your account to apply to your next order. It’s awesome! -Sarah Wyatt
Received my first order from Dirt Road Organics yesterday. Produce is excellent and the quality of the local yogurt and milk is exceptional! Highly recommend local people try it out! -Leah Rich
Love having this super convenient service in our area! Thank you for what you do! Providing my family with organic Whole Foods at an affordable price is a tremendous blessing! -Mara Fields Richardson
Two deliveries so far and everything has been fresh and delicious. This is such a convenient way to get great food and other local items. I appreciate the friendly customer service and the chance to support our GA farmers! – Tiffani Bulfer Hall
Wonderful selections and excellent service. They have lots of my favorites. Honey, all the meats, laundry butter. and fresh produce. – Trudy Rimes Vonier
I just received my first order! I’m so impressed by the products & the excellent customer service! I just can’t say enough good things!! – Pamela Sikes