Local Farms, a Pandemic, and a Vision | Erin Baumgartner | TEDxNatick | Summary and Q&A

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September 25, 2023
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Local Farms, a Pandemic, and a Vision | Erin Baumgartner | TEDxNatick

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Summary

In this video, the speaker, the owner and co-founder of family dinner, a local farmers market delivery service, shares the journey of their business and the challenges they faced during the pandemic. They talk about the importance of local food, the growth of their business, and their efforts to address food insecurity in their community. Despite the difficulties, they were able to find glimmers of sunshine and they express their gratitude for the opportunities to share their story.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is family dinner and what do they do?

Family dinner is a local farmers market delivery service that sources local meat, fish, cheese, produce, and grains and delivers them directly to customers' homes. They work with over a hundred local producers, growers, and makers to bring diverse and delicious shares to customers each week.

Q: How did the idea for family dinner come about?

The idea for family dinner started when the speaker and their husband were eating wings and watching football in a sports bar. They thought about how they could use data and technology to transform the food system, eliminate food waste, and address the problem of food insecurity in their communities.

Q: How did the pandemic affect family dinner?

When the pandemic hit, family dinner experienced a significant increase in weekly orders. They went from doing 300 weekly orders to 700 in just 10 days. The pandemic highlighted the importance of local food and people became more aware of where their food comes from and the need to have a short distance between where it is grown and their plate.

Q: What challenges did family dinner face during the pandemic?

Family dinner had to put a waitlist in place due to the overwhelming demand. They had to say no to 900 potential customers, which was tough as a small business owner. They also had to adapt their packing process, reducing the number of people and putting in extra hours to meet the increased demand.

Q: How did food insecurity play a role during the pandemic?

The pandemic brought attention to the issue of food scarcity and insecurity. People were frightened and stories of food insecurity were becoming more common. Family dinner decided to donate $3,000 worth of local food each month to food banks to help address this issue. They supported local purveyors and the food banks simultaneously by purchasing products from struggling local businesses and donating them to those in need.

Q: How did family dinner navigate the challenges of the pandemic?

The speaker mentions that they had to make the difficult decision to close for three weeks to keep their friends, family, team, and customers safe. It was financially tough for them, but they did what they thought was necessary at the time. They emphasize that during difficult times, one needs to wake up and put one foot in front of the other.

Q: Did family dinner experience any positive outcomes during this time?

Yes, despite the challenges, family dinner managed to experience growth and scale during the pandemic. They opened a second location in Maine and expanded their reach to serve more communities. They also mention the valuable friendships and relationships they formed along the way, including involving the speaker's mother in the business.

Q: How did family dinner support local suppliers and producers during the pandemic?

Family dinner became a conduit both physically and financially for local suppliers and producers. They would buy products from struggling businesses, such as loaves of bread from a bakery that lost all their wholesale accounts, and donate those products directly to food banks. This allowed them to support both the food bank and the local purveyors at the same time.

Q: How did the speaker find joy and positivity during this challenging time?

The speaker shares three little glimmers of sunshine that brought them joy. Firstly, they opened a second location of family dinner, expanding their impact beyond Massachusetts. Secondly, the speaker's mother joined their team, bringing joy and support. Lastly, they express their gratitude for the tedx community and the opportunities to share their story, as their talk has been viewed by 1.8 million people worldwide.

Q: What impact did the tedx community have on family dinner?

Family dinner is grateful to the tedx community for the opportunities they have received. Their talk was picked up by the main Ted page and has been viewed by 1.8 million people around the world. This exposure has allowed them to engage with people from various countries who are eager to learn about their model and contribute to building a more just, equitable, and sustainable food system.

Takeaways

This video highlights the challenges and triumphs that family dinner, a local farmers market delivery service, faced during the pandemic. It emphasizes the importance of local food and the need to address food insecurity in our communities. Despite the difficulties, family dinner found glimmers of sunshine in opening a new location, involving loved ones in the business, and the opportunities provided by the tedx community. It serves as a reminder of the power of connection and the potential for positive change in the food system.

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