When busy workdays keep Chicagoans from the farmers’ market, Farm Fresh Xpress brings the farmers’ market to them.
“Our primary purpose is to introduce employees to healthy food alternatives,” said Bill Gentry, president of the Chicago-based company.
Launched in June 2013, Farm Fresh Xpress is a mobile farmers’ market that brings fresh, organic produce and other food products to businesses in Chicago’s downtown and suburbs. Gentry said he works with human resource departments to make his company’s offerings a part of an organization’s overall wellness plan.
Farm Fresh Xpress trucks bring produce, packaged and refrigerated products onsite to their clients’ place of business. Sometimes this means setting up shop in an individual office cafeteria or in a building’s lobby. The monthly market runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The logistics of setting up a market can be tricky and time consuming, said Gentry. On one occasion the freight elevator was out of service, and products had to be transported in the passenger elevator. The company also works with building management to get access to loading docks. “It can take us an hour to get all the products up the elevator. You don’t know until you get there how many trucks are lined up on the docks,” he said.
A local organic farm provides 90% of the produce for Farm Fresh Xpress, and 95% of the packaged goods are also from local producers, said Gentry. He added that he would like for all inventory to be local.
Along with the mobile farmers’ market, Gentry said he plans on expanding services to include an e-newsletter and chef demos.
Farm Fresh Xpress provides a service to workers, but Gentry said he sees his business as having a positive influence outside of the office.
“People come down to see if there’s something new. Then they’re buying [products] and taking them home,” he said. “Everybody eats every day, and if we can help them eat a little better, that leads to a solution to obesity.”
Photos courtesy of Farm Fresh Xpress
Captions by Cora Weisenberger