TATAMAGOUCHE – Learning of the indefinite closure of the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market broke Jenna Jamieson’s heart.
But that broken heart soon jumped into action, and Jamieson took it upon herself to start a food box delivery system to residents along the North Shore. The boxes are filled with seasonal vegetables and fruit from a number of different producers.
“Those local farmers and manufacturers were all of a sudden without distribution means,” said Jamieson.
Having spent months already doing research and making connections with suppliers for opening Jamieson’s General Store this spring, Jamieson said she thought the idea of food box deliveries could work. She turned to social media to seek interest from the local community.
“The result was phenomenal,” she said, adding she had about a hundred replies in favour of the box.
Jamieson teamed up with Elmridge Farm and Noggins Corner Farm to have boxes made, and the delivery service was launched March 18. Ordering for the first week’s box closed two days later, with 98 orders placed.
There are currently two options available for ordering – a 1-2 person box for $25.90 total, or family of four for $40.90.
“Customers have the option of doing some add-on with products,” said Jamieson.
Add-on products include fresh bread, tea biscuits, or cookies from Sheryl’s Bakery and Café in Pugwash; chocolates from Appleton Chocolates Company; cheese from That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm; milk, yogurt, or cheese from Foxhill Farm; frozen blueberries from Bonnymans’ Wild Blueberries; honey from Lazy Bee Honey; and coffee from Meeting Waters Coffee roasters. Fresh meat – beef, chicken, pork chops, and bacon – is also available from Ebbett’s Meadow Brook Farm; as is lamb and lamb shepherd’s pie from Wood N Hart. Pop Culture Kombucha is also available as an add-on, and Down East cleaning products are available. Eggs – white or brown – are also available by the dozen, depending on availability.
“We do all our supply runs on Monday, except for the bread, which is picked up the morning of delivery so the bread is fresh,” said Jamieson.
With the first box delivery out of the way, Jamieson says she learned quite a bit and has since divided the delivery routes into two days. Tuesday will be orders going out as far as Scotsburn in Pictou County, and include those in areas such as River John, Brule, Nuttby, Tatamagouche, and Bayhead. Orders in the Malagash, Oxford, Pugwash, Fox Harbour, and Folly Lake areas will be delivered on Wednesdays.
“Well, the snow didn’t help,” said Jamieson about that first delivery run. “It hadn’t snowed for weeks, and then we had a bit of a snowstorm on delivery day.”
Other than the weather, Jamieson said the backroads were the biggest issue she and another driver had during the first delivery.
“We worked the kinks out, and next week we will be out earlier. We’ll be starting earlier.”
She said an app for mapping routes has also come in handy, showing her and other delivery drivers the best route to take in getting the boxes to customers.
With social distancing and people self-isolating, the boxes are left on doorsteps for the customers.
All ordering is done online through the Jamieson’s General Store website – www.jamiesonsgeneralstore.ca. Ordering closes at 10 p.m. on Fridays, for delivery the following week.
With word getting out about the delivery service, orders increased to over 120, with hours to go until ordering closed for the second week.
“We’ve also had a lot of requests for donations,” said Jamieson, adding she couldn’t coordinate in time with the local food banks. Instead, any leftover produce would be boxed up.
“I’m doing some random acts of kindness today, leaving on doorsteps boxes of items that don’t necessarily need to be refrigerated for a few hours,” she said.
Jamieson has also received requests for smaller boxes people can purchase as a donation to those in need. She said she was working on putting together a mini box with about $10 worth of produce included to be used for that purpose.
When it comes to the Jamieson’s General Store, the hope was to have it open this spring.
However the building originally planned for the store has fallen through, so Jamieson is still looking for a space. But with the current coronavirus pandemic, the opening could be pushed back for an undetermined amount of time.
In the meantime, however, Jamieson is looking for a permanent home to continue operating the food box delivery service out of. They’re currently using the Wentworth Recreation Centre.
“It would be nice to have a permanent space for our home,” she said.
Jenna Jamieson is pictured with some of the boxes ready to be packed with fresh seasonal produce from local suppliers. Jamieson took it upon herself to create a food box delivery business after hearing the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market closed over coronavirus concerns. The first weekly order saw 98 boxes go out to customers along the North Shore.