CenTex FarmBox, a sustainable and local food and goods delivery service, has just launched its website that allows customers to support local farmers, artisans and vendors without leaving the house. Photos courtesy of CenTex FarmBox
Fresh, local, sustainable food delivery
Shopping for groceries recently has felt like taking a trip back to the days of hunting and gathering as a society. But in the midst of long lines at H-E-B and empty shelves, local food delivery services like CenTex FarmBox have been filling the gap.
CenTex FarmBox is a hyper-local food delivery service that supports local farmers, artisans and vendors.
Owner Mariella Hollerbach and her partner Rocco Moses started working on the idea for the business about a year ago, according to Hollerbach. Moses owns Hemp Hill Farms in Maxwell and Hollerbach worked with him for approximately 6 years on the farm until she graduated from Texas State University last year.
“When I graduated college in August, I went and I worked for a home builder and I hated having a desk job,” Hollerbach said. “I needed something that would put me back outside and something that I felt would give me a purpose in life, something where I could give back to the community. So, he sat me down one day after I was having a hard day at work, and he was like, well, I have this idea.”
The idea Moses had was to provide a service similar to community supported agriculture (CSA), but also give customers a choice in their goods like a grocery service while reducing waste of unused products and supporting other small farms and businesses.
“We wanted to basically make a community that's more aware of where their food comes from, but also giving our community the chance to expand and help other local small businesses — such as Daniel's Garden, Hemp Hill Farms, Springtown Roasters and Headwaters Soaps — be able to grow as well,” Hollerbach said.
She said the last few months have been spent trying to streamline CenTexFamBox’s process, to make it more customizable for customers while also reducing food waste.
“For the past few months we’ve been figuring out our process together for our business and then trying to find a streamlined line process where people are still able to contact me and customize their order and get what they want, so that we're reducing a lot of food waste that was happening in the beginning of our business model where we kind of just gave everyone what we had,” Hollerbach said. “And now, because we have access to so many different vendors, we are able to give our customers a larger selection of products and that has helped a lot in packaging waste and also food waste.”
That process streamlining resulted in the launch of the CenTex FarmBox website on Wednesday.
Each CenTex FarmBox starts at $35 and customers can choose between receiving produce, meats and artisan goods; just produce and protein; just produce and artisan goods; or just produce.
For example, if a customer knows they want produce, meats and artisan goods — artisan goods include soaps, lotions, pastas, breads, cheeses, etc. — they can select the “produce, meats and artisans FarmBox. After a FarmBox selection has been made, the customer can then customize the items in their FarmBox and add additional items for an extra cost.
“Once you select which one of those boxes you would like, you can then go into your box and customize your order,” Hollerbach said. “So say you are a family that eats a lot of tomatoes and carrots, you could go in there and order tomatoes and carrots and spinach and kale and onions — or whatever you like. And then if you wanted to get beef you can add that. Each box has a base price of $35 and that includes six produce items or five and a dozen eggs.”
Hemp Hill Farms in Maxwell produces their greens with an aquaponic system.
Then artisan goods and meat and produce are picked up directly from the local farms Saturday mornings and delivered straight to the customers door, to ensure freshness.
“Saturday morning, Rocco and I pick up from our vendors fresh cut produce, fresh butchered meat, and all the freshly made artisan goods from that week,” Hollerbach said. “Him and I then pack each individual custom order and then Rocco and I go out Saturday and we deliver it all.”
Hollerbach said most of the time, the items will be delivered in an insulated reusable bag, but to be extra cautious during this time, they are packaging items in brown paper bags. Then items are dropped off for delivery at customers doors.
CenTex FarmBox vendor Headwaters Collection creates its signature line of soaps with water from the San Marcos River, Barton Springs, Comal Springs and Jacobs Well. A percentage of all its sales go to the organizations that protect the headwaters.
CenTex FarmBox delivers to homes in the San Marcos, New Braunfels and Austin areas. And Hollerbach said customers can be sure that all their products are hyper-local, sustainably-produced and fresher than grocery stores or shipped food box delivery.
Hollerbach said she's been encouraged by how CenTex FarmBox has been able to fill a gap in the community in the midst of COVID-19 and the shortage of groceries paired with the length of lines at stores that it has brought.
“It's encouraging for us to be able to provide our community with the things that they need — the essentials like fresh food, bread and even hand sanitizers and cleaning products as well,” Hollerbach said. “With COVID-19, it’s also important for people to know — and I think a lot of people are looking for this right now — how small our company is and how few people touch the produce and the meat and the products that go out to the homes — It's literally just me Rocco and our vendors that handle anything in this business.”
Most of the time, CenTex FarmBox items will be delivered in an insulated reusable bag, but to be extra cautious during this time, they are packaging items in brown paper bags.
They also deliver boxes without making physical contact with the customer, according to Hollerbach.
“We are delivering straight to people's doors and we do a ‘no touch’ delivery, which is we drop off the bag at your designated spot — usually the front porch — and the payment has already been processed through online and then they can come out and grab their bag when we leave.”
CenTex FarmBox’s current vendors include: Daniels Garden, Hemp Hill Farms, Headwaters Collection, Springtown Roasters, AY RAAMS Farm, River Bottom Farms and Hand and Home Breads.
For more information, go to CenTex FarmBox's website.