PLOVGH

Plovgh is a cooperative of farmers, growers, and ranchers that sell directly to their customers.

20 05/14

Plovgh for the People

imageWhy join Plovgh?

  1. Discover farms and crops in your local store. With Plovgh, you see what the farms are harvesting and where to find those crops in your neighborhood. Crops that are sourced on Plovgh give you visibility into the farmer’s agricultural practices and any unique characteristics of the crop itself.You’ll also be the first to know when a farm’s harvest comes in, so get in there and get it!

  2. Purchase more crops from farms. Plovgh farms and their products are moving beyond the farmers market or CSA to become part of your everyday life, rather than just a Sunday morning activity. With Plovgh, farmers still harvest immediately before their crops reach you and reveal their origin and unique characteristics, but you can find them in the shops and markets you already frequent.

  3. Put more money into farmers’ hands. By selling their crops directly into your local stores, farmers receive nearly twice as much as they would in a traditional supply chain. They also have more time to spend in the field producing the crops that you rely on. Farmers doing better is just the kind of change we want to see.

To get started as a member, go to Plovgh. And spread the word about Plovgh farms and their harvest! The more people who join in, the more we can do for the farmers who are reinventing food and agriculture in this country.

If you’d like to recruit local farms, businesses, and neighbors to increase direct trade crops available in your area, please drop us a line!

25 11/13

Transporter Spotlight: Clancy’s Transportation Solutions

Ah, the food system. It’s a mess, huh? Seems like farms, trucking companies, commodity brokers, even retailers that get to gargantuan scale really muck things up for everyone else. That’s why we’re excited to bring small businesses like Matthew Clancy’s into the Plovgh network. Have a look at this local transporter who got your crops into your neighborhood this week.

Transporter’s name: Matthew J. Clancy, Clancy’s Transportation Solutions

Homebase: Rotterdam Junction, New York

Years in operation: We are a newly formed business.

What do you drive? 2010 Chevrolet Express van.

What do you do? We offer the best solution to people and businesses that need something moved across town or across country. We provide our clients with a low cost alternative to the big name companies (emphasis added) with the care only a family owned small business can offer!

Why did you start this business? What’s unique or compelling about how you operate? I started this business to find a more fulfilling way to provide for my family’s quality of life. After years of working for the State of New York as a manager, the time spent away from my wife and children coupled with the fact that I felt uninspired by my work led me to leave it behind in order to focus on making Clancy’s Transportation Solutions (CTS) a success. CTS is a family owned and operated small business aimed at helping our local community and beyond. We are focused on providing custom transportation solutions to our clients that result in the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Welcome, Matthew! The maiden voyage was a success and we look forward to many more.

19 04/13

Transporter Spotlight: Mark Jaffe of The Fresh Connection

We’d like to extend a hearty welcome to Mark, who drives his first Plovgh route today, connecting farms’ harvest with New York City. We met Mark through Slow Food NYC and we’re excited to fuel the movement of harvest from source to city. 

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Transporter’s name: Mark Jaffe, The Fresh Connection

Homebase: New York City

Years in operation: 1

What do you do? The Fresh Connection is an NYC-based company that provides transportation and logistics services for food producers who are independent, artisanal, and environmentally and economically sustainable. 

Why did you start this business? What’s unique or compelling about how you operate? Through talking to people and through my own previous experience in the local and sustainable food world I saw that the groundwork has been laid in New York City for a strong local food system with many small- to mid-size farmers producing high quality product and customers eager to receive these goods. There are also many groups and individuals working to build networks for the local food system. However, these networks often do not fully address the needs and challenges of actually transporting product from Point A to Point B (emphasis added). I started The Fresh Connection with the aim of creating an efficient model for product delivery in and around NYC and providing the local food system with an affordable transportation and delivery service.

The Fresh Connection is unique in that we combine practical knowledge of the food distribution industry and the logistics surrounding it with an ideological belief that we must create a food system that supports independent producers whose products are environmentally and economically sustainable, with an emphasis on locally produced goods. We offer a flexible model and are not looking to simply replicate the traditional distributor model but to help in creating a new distribution system that addresses the needs of a local and sustainable food system.

Say hello to Mark when you see him along his route. This kind of collaboration is the beginning of the change we want to see. To get your farm on one of the Plovgh routes, or to order from the farms on Plovgh, get in touch here!

04 04/13

Connectivity

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One reason we are building Plovgh is to re-connect people with the source of their food. Drawing on the relationships that once linked producers and consumers, we are leveraging technology to shift the current agricultural transaction and change how the supply chain operates.

The soil food web outlined above with the help of Dr. Elaine Ingham and the folks behind the Lexicon of Sustainability is a natural example of sustainable connectivity. It shows how ecosystems work to maintain balance and manage the interconnectedness of organisms that provide healthy soil necessary for growing food. It’s interesting to think of Plovgh in this perspective, coordinating all of the people that make up a supply chain to develop a more efficient and reliable way through which they can engage with one another. It is an alternative take on an outdated system, and one that aims to foster an approach that is more healthy and sustainable.

04 03/13

SXSW Eco: Startup Showcase

We’re stoked to be heading to Austin tomorrow for SXSW Eco. If you’ll be there for the conference you can check us out at the Startup Showcase. For those of you not able to make it you can follow us along on Instagram or Twitter. There will also be speakers and keynotes streaming live here or you can get updates via the Twitter hashtag #SXSWEco.

A Closer Look: Startup Showcase Semifinalist Plovgh

An Internet startup, Plovgh rethinks commerce by reorganizing the relationship between producers and consumers. This hyperlocal digital exchange and distribution network for independent farmers eliminates intermediaries, earning producers higher margins and making the direct purchase of goods from farms simple, affordable and convenient.

Headed by founder Elizabeth McVay Greene (BA, Columbia University; MBA, MIT Sloan School of Management), the company recently completed a pilot in Brooklyn that generated revenue and new customers for participating farms, and got thousands of people involved. Where’s Plovgh headed next? Mumbai, Lima, New Orleans and down the street from you! In five years, Plovgh will be hyperlocal commerce with a global scope.

Don’t miss them at the SXSW Eco Startup Showcase.

Also, in case you missed it, we put together a preview of some of the talks and panels we’re looking forward to this week which you can check out here.

02 10/12

A Snapshot of SXSW Eco Sessions to Check Out

Next week Plovgh is headed to Austin for SXSW Eco. The conference, now in it’s second year, was started to help move the many conversations surrounding sustainability toward progressive solutions. We’ll be there to participate in the Startup Showcase, but there are plenty of panels and discussions that we are psyched to see. The following is just an overview of some of the talks we plan to check out. For a full list of speakers and events you can view the schedule here.

Mix Parts, Stir Well: Tech Soup for Food Economies 

This panel covers how software developers are aiding local food systems and how these new tech tools are fueling rural-urban economics and better regional food economies.

Life in the Street: Reclaiming Public Space

Companies are finding that there is excess capacity in cities and communities that can be repurposed for the greater good. This talk shares how pop up street improvement projects are helping to motivate change throughout cities.

The Sharing Economy for Sustainable Development

“Straight to the Point” is a series of 15 minute sessions given by thought leaders in different fields from around the world. “The Sharing Economy” is one such session given by Jennifer Schmitt that discusses “collaborative consumption” and how it can change the way traditional systems operate.

Good Food: Turning Popularity into Power

Don Carr, Erin FlynnTom Philpott, and Jason Mark answer the question of how sustainable food choices can shift to become the norm rather than the exception despite barriers in the existing market.

Creating Significant Change at the System Level

“Most sustainability challenges are rooted in systemic problems and need to be solved by a new form of approach: system innovation.” This panel will discuss the theory and practice of creating change at a system level.

Plenty for the Planet: Sustainable Food and a Well-Fed World

Anna Lappé will cover the divisive argument over whether sustainable or industrial agriculture is the answer to world food security. Along with the screening of her new video, Anna will “explore the role of sustainable food systems, share emergent global innovations and expose food industry flacks.”

Sustainability Gets Social

I’m personally looking forward to checking out this panel on how social media trends can influence sustainable systems. The dialogue will touch on data insights, content development, brand management and more.

Building Value in the Age of Less

How will collaboration and community shift the standards of a “successful” business? The topic of “collaborative consumption” is revisited and pondered by a group of entrepreneurs including Casey CaploweMicki Krimmel, and Elizabeth Stewart.

Measure it, Improve it: Data for Better Cities

We get excited about data at Plovgh. This panel will examine different scenarios of “how data is being collected, analyzed and visualized for planning and designing sustainable cities.” Panelists will also identify the ways crowd sourcing and mobile phone sensors are being leveraged in areas where data does not yet exist.

Farming the Future

We’re looking forward to hear from some of our peers and agricultural leaders on this panel as they discuss the emerging new generation of farmers and what can be done to help make direct from producer economies more viable.

28 09/12

Meet an Organizer

Name: Ali

Occupation: Student

Plovgh Pickup Point: The New School Campus, West Village

1. Could you describe a formative experience in your life that shaped your views of farms and food?
My view on farms and food has to really be explained as a gradual learning process that is constantly growing: courses I have taken at the New School dealing with sustainability, documentaries I have seen such as Food Inc. In general, I have become increasingly aware of what I eat, making small adjustments at a time, for instance only eating organic, free-range chicken. 

2.  What motivated you to start a Plovgh Pickup Point in your neighborhood?
I received an email from my advisor, a Health Educator at The New School. She forwarded an email sent to a food professor. I emailed Plovgh and heard a response from Mallory. Soon after we met and within a semester’s time we organized a Plovgh pick-up at the University.  Within the University’s sustainable commitments, connecting to local produce is an important initiative worth implementing. Plovgh is an organization that will help students, staff, and faculty be able to pick up produce from local farms for extremely affordable prices. The first pick-up was very successful.

3. How does being a Plovgh Organizer relate to your work and interests?
Being a Plovgh Organizer relates to almost everything I do at the university and in my own personal life. At the university I work with the Office of Sustainable Facilities and Management as the President of Sustainable Cities, a graduate student organization. Members of our group are Green Fund recipients working on an energy competition within one of the residence halls. I am a team member of the Solar Decathlon at Milano, a resident advisor of the Green Floor, a compost advocate, and a Health Promotion Specialist focusing on the relationship between well-being and environmental sustainability. 
03 01/12

Iowa-Wisconsin road trip in a snapshot. Visiting farms practicing sustainable, diverse agriculture. Conversations with big thinkers. Meeting beginning farmers. And corn, lots and lots of corn.

20 09/11

New Agriculture Needs Out From Under the Corporate Thumb

Last week, Walmart announced a $1 million grant for Growing Power, a Milwaukee- and Chicago-based organization started by Will Allen that focuses on equal access to healthy food for all communities. The Good Food Revolution was aflutter with reactions. Should Growing Power accept Walmart’s support? Can big corporations really be part of the transformation in farming and food or are they merely participating to rack up do-gooder points? In a reaction to Will Allen’s Facebook message explaining the decision to take the funding, Zac Henson declared, “The revolution will not be grant-funded.” Henson’s perspective raises a crucial and unresolved question: Can New Agriculture succeed without the financial and operational support of the corporate network it aims to subvert? The problem with Growing Power accepting Walmart funding or pursuing the PepsiCo grant they’re after is not whether powerful corporate interests and dollars ought to be part of shifting the food system. They should. The agriculture movement is not exclusive – it has emerged from concerns shared by citizens, nonprofits, governments, and multinationals alike. The deeper problem the funding decision exposes is that if New Agriculture relies on money and support from Industrial Agriculture (and I call it that very intentionally – I am talking here, as I have before, about those corporations that apply traditional notions of efficiency, economies of scale, and operational rigidity to an agricultural system that performs anything but linearly and predictably), then the paradigm of agricultural production and food consumption does not change. Instead, the predominant market system prevails and organizations like Growing Power that fuel the new model in fact exist within the dominant system as a subject of corporate efforts to participate in the cutting edge. We need a more profound shift than that to sustain the agricultural resurgence we’re witnessing. In New Agriculture, decisions and information do not need to be centralized in the hands of a few powerful companies. Rather, a diverse base of producers and consumers is beginning to coordinate the production, marketing, purchase, and consumption of wholesome food with alternative markets, new tools, and inclusive approaches. It looks like Windowfarms providing farming kits to citizen growers. It looks like Plovgh giving farms a way to earn more for their crops by reaching their customers en masse. It looks like hundreds of thousands of farms in this country reclaiming their economic fate by putting their land into food crops instead of commodities and selling that food directly to the people who eat it. Growing Power is part of the reason New Agriculture finally feels accessible, but their decision to take support from a corporate giant places them squarely within the corporate framework. Negative reactions to the organization’s decisions express the disappointment that a leader on the alternative path just nestled itself into the hierarchy it aims to change. Its values and mission just became a line item within Walmart’s annual report (or, worse, its Corporate Social Responsibility report) instead of a call for an entirely different way. It reminds us that we’re stuck. To have the lasting impact that the world needs, New Agriculture needs to stand on its own. To do so it has to be profitable. New Agriculture does not need a re-funneling of corporate money, money that because of the dominant structure it perpetuates won’t give us the market changes that will keep farmers on the land, improve the quality of our soil, and yield healthful food crops and relationships across our agri-culture. We need new business models that are built for New Agriculture, that reward the producer and the consumer, that value decisions that are optimal economically as well as environmentally and ethically, that give influence back to the people who grow the food and the people who eat it. Only when the companies that are clearing a truly alternative agricultural path are prepared to upend and eventually replace the old paradigm of the agricultural sector with connectivity, community, and environmental stewardship will we have a chance of sustaining the revitalization of our farms and food.

14 09/11