By Aaron de Leon
Happy 2015 from the Urban Farmist!
It’s a brand new year and I am excited to introduce you to a whole new round of Urban Farmist innovators, dreamers and doers!
Having said that, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Sam and Amy Johnson. They are the innovators and dreamers behind Field to Meal, an amazing small business making enormous waves in the farm-fresh food industry.
Just south of Dallas, Texas, sprawling ranch and farm land converge on the small city of Waxahachie. Known for its unique name, beautiful Romanesque courthouse and the annual Scarborough Renaissance Festival, Waxahachie now serves as home base for Field to Meal.
Field to Meal offers customers the option to choose 1, 3 or 5 unique meals from the weekly menu. Once the meals are chosen, Field to Meal will package all the necessary vegetables, meats, spices, cheeses and sauces required to prepare the meal. Once the unprepared meals are packaged, Field to Meal will deliver them to your door, ready to cook, at an incredibly competitive price. Beyond the convenience, Field to Meal sources the majority of its produce and meats from local farmers and ranchers. Meals are designed weekly, around the available resources.
Sam and Amy launched their business in April of 2014 after years of trading time for a paycheck in jobs neither of them saw a future in. Sam, originally from Australia, spent most of his career years in finance. Amy, a Texas native, spent time at Apple. “It was really her idea” Sam said in his classic Australian accent.
After traveling the world, meeting the love of her life and wanting to do something more with her time, Amy made a decision. “I have been interested in food since I was a kid. I traveled the world, never a picky eater, and I learned to cook with all of this cultural influence, ” she said. “We knew we wanted to own our own business. We knew we wanted to be in the food industry,” Sam added. ”We knew we wanted to help local farmers and we knew we wanted to help people eat better.”
“We had access to a farm. My aunt had a CSA (community-supported agriculture) with her farm” Amy said. “But I really started thinking about waste. People get a bunch of vegetables, maybe more than they can eat or they don’t know what to do with them and they rot.” Sam and Amy set out to solve this issue and inadvertently confronted many of the other food issues our society faces on a regular basis.
Education and access are two of the main socail issues Field to Meal confronts on a weekly basis. Not only are Sam and Amy educating people on portion control and the culinary use of a multitude of local, farm fresh vegetables, they are also educating people on the difference between store-bought and true, farm fresh vegetables. And it’s not just about look and taste.
“Sometimes people complain that the produce didn’t last as long as they expected it to,” Sam said. “We have to teach them that you can’t leave our farm-fresh veggies on the counter for days like store-bought produce. You might need to get our produce in the fridge straight away.”
Access is the key to any thriving business, but Field to Meal is taking access to a whole new level. Being aware of their competitive prices makes it hard to justify eating out. Based on the quality of the food they provide, it’s equally difficult to justify a trip to the grocery store. A family of four can order five meals from Field to Meal, every week, delivered to your door, for $120 or three meals for $75. If you happen to be a bachelor or bachelorette, you can purchase four meals for $60 or two meals for a mere $30.
If you ask Sam and Amy how they are capable of operating at these prices, they will tell you it has a lot to do with the invaluable relationships they have built with local farmers and ranchers.
For nearly a year now, Sam and Amy have been packing meals in their vehicles and driving all over North Texas to make deliveries. “We have a hard time saying no to business. So we sometimes end up driving unreasonable distances, but it always works out for us” Sam said. To date, Field to Meal hasn’t spent a dime on marketing. “Word of mouth has been the main source of our growth,” Sam said. “Ninety percent of the people who try us end up subscribing.”
Thankfully, Sam and Amy won’t need to drive unreasonable distances much longer. Field to Meal is setting up a warehouse in Dallas where it will store, package and distribute the majority if its meals starting at the end of January. “We will likely be at 1,000 meals per week before long” Sam said. “We will keep our storefront here in Waxahachie where people can walk in and purchase meal bags, but we are really excited about our Dallas addition. We figure if we can make it out here, we can make it just about anywhere.”
Sam and Amy sent me home with three meals to cook. For pictures and reviews, check out The Urban Farmist.