When restaurants in Western North Carolina closed March 17, a window of opportunity opened for Mother Earth Food. The Asheville-based produce and grocery delivery service suddenly found itself able to fold more partners and customers into its mission: making it easier for people to eat local, organic food while supporting the businesses that provide it.
“Our customer base almost tripled overnight,” says Andrea Duvall, who founded the Asheville business with Graham Duvall in 2012. “Before this crisis kicked in, we delivered about 300 bins a week. We jumped to 700 customers by that third weekend in March, and we have a waiting list of more than 600.”
Mother Earth makes weekly home deliveries of bins filled with produce, dairy, eggs, baked goods, hummus, chocolate, meat and veggie proteins, coffee and more, all of it regionally sourced. The business covers Asheville and surrounding areas, including Black Mountain, Weaverville and Hendersonville, as well as Greenville and Spartanburg in South Carolina.
With the uptick in demand, the delivery schedule expanded from two days to four — Wednesday through Sunday — and the ordering deadline is now 5 p.m. Monday. The Duvalls have hired more staff and plan to borrow four refrigerated vans from Buchi kombucha company to supplement their fleet of four.
Mother Earth has also been able to increase the quantities of food it orders from its existing suppliers and provide a retail outlet for new partners. “So many farms and makers relied on restaurants for a lot of their business,” says Andrea. “That business is gone, but their produce is in the field. Anybody who wants to come and supply us, we definitely have the demand. We love that we can help them.”
Though the home-delivery client base is capped for now at 700, Andrea says Mother Earth is working to set up drop-off sites in Asheville neighborhoods and will offer a pickup option at its West Asheville warehouse to accommodate customers on the waiting list. “Once we can drop 100-200 bins for pickup at each spot, we can add all of those and more,” she explains. “My goal is to feed the community as much as we can, as well as we can, especially at this time.”
To learn more about Mother Earth Food, visit motherearthfood.com.