Farmbox Delivery co-founder Greg Hoover learned about the value of local food at his grandparents’ farm in the mountains of California. It wasn’t a big operation, he recalls, certainly not big enough for large-scale sourcing. “But we had chickens and ducks, Grandpa had a huge garden. There’s nothing quite like the taste of the food fresh from the garden.”
It formed his love for intensely local food, one that persisted through years working as a marketing director at a fortune 500 company in California. “I know the value of it,” Greg says. But after doing his time in the corporate world, he and a friend began talking about a shared feeling, a longing for a different way to live and work. “Corporate America, it’s such a grind. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything good. We talked about things we could do to make a difference.”
Greg began reading about the plight of small farmers and the difficulties they faced. He describes an industry of farmers who are excellent at what they do, but don’t always have ways to reach customers. “Lots of them are going out of business. Little farmers can’t support themselves. One of the main avenues they have are roadside sales, and farmers markets, and that doesn’t allow them to create a great income. Not everyone can get into farmers markets, and it’s hard to promote business.
“What if we allowed them to customize their orders, and get groceries delivered to their door?” he asks. “We can support local farmers. That’s how it started,” he adds. “And that’s where we’re at.”
The idea for Farmbox Delivery came from that idea and his memories of his grandparents’ farm. “We’re connecting farmers and producers with our members. Our farmers want to reach members, and our members want to support local vendors, and to eat healthy,” Greg says.
It’s a a journey back to the ways we used to eat, away from fast food and mass producing, back to roots, health, and the taste of real food.
With nothing but an idea, Greg and his co-founder moved their families to North Texas in 2013, drawn by the high volume of producers, and because there wasn’t a service like theirs. They didn’t have many ties, and they faced some skepticism. But they knew what they wanted. “We were confident. No risk, no glory, right?”
However, Texas wasn’t quite what they expected. “I thought Texas was going to be just ma and pa restaurants, small independent places,” he says. “I realized quickly that it’s all franchised, just like California. That was a surprise. People eat out more here than any other place in the country, and we came in saying, ‘Hey, buy our product and cook at home.’” Still, he loves Texas. Except the weather, he jokes.
One of their first steps was to assemble producers and vendors, although Greg admits it was a little tricky. The producers they met were a little skeptical of the Californians coming up to them and offering them the world. “We had to do it small and slow.”
They also had to introduce themselves to farmer’s markets, which at first, didn’t like the idea of FarmBox Delivery, seeing them as competition. However, over time, they built trust and they realized they all had the same goal: helping local farmers advance. “Now, we work with farmers markets,” he says.
But one of the biggest joys of Farmbox Delivery is getting to know their farmers. “It’s funny, farmers are particular about tomatoes. Everyone thinks they have the best tomatoes,” he chuckles. “It’s a little competition between them all.” Denton Creek Farms sources their tomatoes and cantaloupe—and Greg says in his opinion no one can even compete.
They started with just a few zip codes, delivering only produce and meat. But the dream was always for them to supply enough that their customers could get everything they need in their weekly box. Most of their vendors work on a small scale, and often, customers will even recommend new products to their team. They’ve also added all kinds of products in their eight years.
Presently, FarmBox Delivery has recently expanded services to Plano, Allen, Frisco, and McKinney—covering most of the metroplex—as well as Round Rock, Waco, and Austin. Their expansion came just in time for COVID-19, which brought new awareness to the necessity of home delivery options.
“The farmers that work with us have grown with us. We love to see that,” he says. “We’ve all grown together.”
They’re still adding new products to their pantry all the time. Farmbox Delivery purchases from a diverse slew of vendors who produce winter vegetables and fruits, supplemented by beef and chicken, and pantry items like vegan chocolate, noodles, and chia seed jam. Though their priority is local, Texas sourcing, they also carry other products for the convenience of their customers.
“The food is incredible, nothing like what you can get at the store.” In particular, he says he loves greens, collards, chard, and spinach from Denton. “The cantaloupe we get in summer is the best I’ve ever had,” Greg says. “Also, Chisholm Trail supplies all our grass fed beef, and their roast is incredible.”
Farmbox Delivery reduces food waste because they only order what they need each week. In fact, any of the food that they receive that can’t go to customers—bruised apples, dehydrated lettuce—goes to the Roanoke food bank. “They love us,” he says. Farmbox also offers an “Ugly but Yummy” box, offered to customers at a discount. But either way, everything farmers give them goes to someone’s pantry.
Every week, subscribers have a weekend to log on to the Farmbox site, pick what they want, from the fruit and vegetable boxes, to the butcher’s box, to the selection of granola and kombucha.
After his time in corporate America, Greg says he’s glad to use his marketing and business acumen to help farmers. “If you don’t get excited about this, you won’t get excited about anything.”