The Common Market Farm Share: A Blue Apron for the workplace

Wellness programs at companies are still figuring out what works best for employees.

Whether it’s a gym membership, fresh fruit days or healthier options in cafeterias, every company approaches the movement differently.

To help out, one Pennsylvania nonprofit has been selling farm fresh products directly to workplaces.

Think of it as Blue Apron, but for businesses.

The Common Market Farm Share, which began in 2008, has seen an increase in interest each year from businesses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“Our Farm Share program is best described as a subscription to seasonal, local and sustainable food delivered to participating workplaces. We have a variety of different options including produce, eggs, cheese, meat and more,” said Sarah Padva, Mid-Atlantic Farm Share Program Manager. “We ended up targeting workplaces because our program can be easily offered by employers as a wellness program, and it’s also a convenient location for employees to receive their deliveries.”

Between 2015 and 2016 there was a 13 percent increase in farm share sales. Between 2016 and 2017 there was 16 percent increase in farm share sales.

So far, the market has had success with mid-size to large businesses, typically focusing on companies with at least 20 participants.

“During our Summer Farm Share Program, we’re hoping to have about 80 participating workplaces in the Mid-Atlantic region,” Padva said.

The farmers and producers are all within a 250 mile radius of Common Market’s warehouse in Philadelphia.

The market has not worked with large or urban farms, focusing on small family farms, Padva said.

And to ensure farm viability, farmers are all paid within 15 days of product receipt.

One such small family farm in New Jersey is A. T. Buzby Farm in Salem County.

Dawn Buzby said she has worked with Common Market since it’s inception, and believes the Farm Share program is a win-win for all.

“We love the farm share program and the opportunity to be part of the growing movement toward local food. It is a win/win situation for our environment, communities and farmers,” Buzby said.

“My husband Andy and I bought our farm in 1981. We grew a lot of the same crops we do now but sold everything wholesale through auction. Over the years we started selling more products directly to roadside stands and small grocery stores. In 1999, we joined our first community farmers market and are currently participating in three community markets in Collingswood, Ocean City and Philadelphia.”

A change in consumer habits has helped the farm grow.

“The public’s desire to know where their food comes from inspires us,” Buzby said.