Better than the grocery store because everything is local. Better than a CSA because you choose your items, with no commitment to buy every week. Better than the farmer’s market, because of convenient online ordering and easy pickup or delivery.
What is this fantastic food source? Olympia Local Foods.
Dreamed up in late 2009 by husband-and-wife team Tom and Celia Husmann, Olympia Local Foods has been fulfilling local food orders since May 2010.
The idea came from the evolution of the couple’s own farm. Tom has lived in and around Olympia his whole life, and Celia moved here to attend The Evergreen State College. Eventually, they bought property and decided to start a farm. But as they began looking at marketing options, they realized something was missing.
“Buying local wasn’t very convenient,” explains Tom. “You had to go to all these different farms to pick things up or make it to the farmers market on the weekend and hope that what you wanted was there.”
The couple saw room for a new type of service, marrying online ordering with a wide range of local farmers, bakeries, coffee roasters, and other locally owned small businesses.
“We were going to develop software ourselves,” says Tom, who owns a website hosting company and has an Internet marketing background, “but then we discovered Eugene Local Foods.”
“It’s been a cool partnership,” he says. “I worked with Doug at Eugene Local Foods to get Olympia Local Foods set up. That saved us a year. We’d probably just now be starting up with orders.”
Customers place online orders for available local goods – fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs, grains, seafood, and more – throughout the week. The weekly ordering period begins at 7:00 p.m. each Thursday and closes at 9:00 a.m. each Tuesday.
Orders are then picked up at Olympia Local Foods’ convenient pickup spot on Mottman Road on Thursday between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. John and Lynette Christopherson, owners of Olympia Wood Flooring Supply, generously share their warehouse space for the weekly pickups.
Customers who have spent at least $60 and live within eligible delivery areas (or $30 in the area near The Evergreen State College) can have items delivered for free. Nominal charges (between $1 and $4) also make delivery possible for smaller orders.
“Our goal is to make buying local and organic affordable and convenient. We want to streamline the business model, cut out all the waste,” says Tom.
To that end, Olympia Local Foods doesn’t store its products for very long, doesn’t have to worry about extensive packaging on the shelf to grab people’s attention, and only operates one day a week, keeping facility requirements minimal.
“We’re just trying to cut out all the unnecessary expenses so we can get the costs down,” says Tom. “That way, we can improve convenience and make it more affordable.”
And Olympia Local Foods is open for business year-round, another advantage over many CSAs and farmers markets.
“We’ll still have meats, dairy, cheeses, and storage crops like potatoes and onions,” Tom says of their winter offerings. “And sometimes you see kale all the way up until January or February. There really are a lot of things you can buy locally through the winter.”
Two of the most well known farms Olympia Local Foods works with are Rising River Farm in Rochester and Boistfort Valley Farm in Curtis. But the list of farms and small businesses supplying wares is a long one.
What about Tom and Celia’s own farm? They decided that rather than compete with the farmers they’re trying to help, they’d find their own niche, something that wasn’t being served very well, and take advantage of the need.
So now the couple is gearing up to do poultry. “We found that was the missing product,” says Tom. “There are very few people doing it because it’s very expensive and the laws are really strict.”
The company began marketing its service back in May. “And it just started growing and growing,” says Tom. “Every week, we’re getting new customers.”
And two weeks after adding its delivery option, Olympia Local Foods had its best week yet.
Leslie Brodie stumbled upon the Olympia Local Foods website while searching the web for local, pasture-raised meat.
“In the past, I felt that I should shop locally more often, but I just didn’t have the time and couldn’t always make it to the Farmers Market,” she says.
“What they’ve done at Olympia Local Foods is not only a great business idea,” Leslie continues, “but it’s made it easy for me to support the kind of businesses I believe in, as well as feed the family the best way I can based on my budget and time constraints.” She’s especially pleased to be able to shop at several local producers all at once.
She admits to being picky about produce, and says Olympia Local Foods didn’t disappoint.
“The flavor of the fruits and vegetables was divine,” she says, “which tells me it’s fresh and grown with love and locally.”
The only bump in the road? “Deciding what to order,” Clarke says. “With such a comprehensive inventory I had trouble picking – too many good choices.”
That’s one problem Olympia Local Foods should be happy to have.
“The ultimate goals are to make buying local the norm – to bring it into the mainstream,” says Tom. “And to help farmers scale up production so there’s enough food available on the local scene to supply the local market.”
Olympia Local Foods
2442 Mottman Rd SW
Tumwater, WA 98512