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Article

Evaluation of Farm Fresh Food Boxes: A Hybrid Alternative Food Network Market Innovation

1
Ecological Agriculture and Food Systems, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA 98505, USA
2
Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
3
Extension, University of Vermont, Brattleboro, VT 05301, USA
4
Cooperative Extension, University of California, Novato, CA 94947, USA
5
Extension, Washington State University, Burlington, WA 98233, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10406; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410406
Received: 7 November 2020 / Revised: 29 November 2020 / Accepted: 8 December 2020 / Published: 12 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agri-Food Systems)
Using a mixed-methods design, we evaluated Farm Fresh Food Box (F3B) a market innovation designed to expand producer markets, stabilize rural retail businesses, and improve rural food access. In the F3B model, pre-ordered Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)-style produce boxes are sold through rural retail outlets. F3B was implemented from 2016 to 2018 as part of a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded multi-state extension and research collaboration project in 3 geographically diverse and rural areas: Vermont, Washington, and California. The F3B evaluation aimed to (1) assess market potential; (2) determine logistics for successful implementation; (3) describe the benefits and drawbacks for farmers and retailers; and (4) measure consumers’ attitudes and purchase behavior. A national market survey indicated consumers would be likely to purchase F3B if it was perceived to offer good value on fresh local produce, without need for a subscription. The model put a few additional labor burdens on farmers and retailers, but required time for relationship-building and more record-keeping time for farmers. Those who purchased a F3B were generally satisfied with the quality, quantity and variety of produce each week and a high proportion considered F3B to be a good value for the money. As a new business innovation, F3B showed only modest profit, but retailers and farmers felt it was worthwhile to expand their customer base, promote their brand and develop their partnership. F3B began a means to address flattened growth in direct to consumer produce sales, food deserts and dwindling retail options for fresh foods in rural areas. We discuss F3B as a potential solution to food system weaknesses exposed by the COIVD-19 pandemic because it offers touch-free, high-quality local produce ready for curbside pickup at a convenient location. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; agribusiness; local foods; hybrid values-based supply chain; rural development; COVID-19 sustainability; agribusiness; local foods; hybrid values-based supply chain; rural development; COVID-19
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sitaker, M.; Kolodinsky, J.; Wang, W.; Chase, L.C.; Kim, J.V.S.; Smith, D.; Estrin, H.; Vlaanderen, Z.V.; Greco, L. Evaluation of Farm Fresh Food Boxes: A Hybrid Alternative Food Network Market Innovation. Sustainability 2020, 12, 10406. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410406

AMA Style

Sitaker M, Kolodinsky J, Wang W, Chase LC, Kim JVS, Smith D, Estrin H, Vlaanderen ZV, Greco L. Evaluation of Farm Fresh Food Boxes: A Hybrid Alternative Food Network Market Innovation. Sustainability. 2020; 12(24):10406. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410406

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sitaker, Marilyn, Jane Kolodinsky, Weiwei Wang, Lisa C. Chase, Julia V.S. Kim, Diane Smith, Hans Estrin, Zoe V. Vlaanderen, and Lauren Greco. 2020. "Evaluation of Farm Fresh Food Boxes: A Hybrid Alternative Food Network Market Innovation" Sustainability 12, no. 24: 10406. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410406

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