A Fresh Forkin’ History
Fresh Fork Market was born at the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium in August of 2007. Four Case Western Reserve University students carried their idea forward throughout their senior year of college. In June of 2008, Fresh Fork Market launched service in Cleveland, Ohio to deliver fresh local products directly from local farmers to local restaurants. The service relied on direct interaction between farmer and restaurateur over a virtual farmers market.
In its first year of operations, Fresh Fork Market delivered high quality agricultural products from thirty-six different farmers in the Cleveland area to fifty-five different restaurants, country clubs, caterers, schools, and hospitals. The success of the virtual marketplace was seen across the Greater Cleveland area, prompting articles and press in publications such as the Plain Dealer, Crain’s Cleveland Business Magazine, Inside Business, The Wine Buzz, and many other local and regional publications.
Starting in January 2009, Fresh Fork Market began to answer the yearn of individual consumers as well. Fresh Fork allowed individual customers to sign on and order product. Within a few months, over 150 individuals and families have signed up to use Fresh Fork Market, and that number today has grown into the thousands.
Also in 2009 Fresh Fork started a subscription grocery program. We modeled this program after a popular trend in small farm marketing, the CSA, or “Community Supported Agriculture.” We analyzed the challenges associated with a traditional CSA and proposed a better product. Our product – the Farm Buying Club – was launched in June 2009 with only 40 customers. By fall of 2010, we had nearly 500 weekly subscribers. In 2010, we also added our first winter season. Fifteen pick ups, scheduled every other week, focusing more on meats and value added products.
The 2011 seasons showed tremendous growth. We had over 1000 subscribers in the 2011 summer season and over 300 in the winter season. We added corporate stops, at several key companies in the greater Cleveland area, and began adding more restaurant customers.
In 2012, we added more stops-bringing the total to 16 public stops and nearly a dozen corporate drop off points. We moved to a new warehouse and added new vehicles to the Fresh Fork Market fleet. We added more value added products and expanded our flash freezing of summer products to add to our winter shares. Our summer program grew to about 2400 weekly subscribers and our winter program swelled to over 800.
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