By: Jenny Lin, BFC Intern
Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op is one of our biggest produce distributors, providing us with a bounty of local goods. LFFC is a nonprofit farm organization that provides certified organic and fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, honey, pasture-raised animals, and more. There are about 80 farmers in the co-op. They are located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 169 miles from the Bushwick Food Coop, roughly a three-hour drive. Delivering twice per week, they help us to keep the store stocked with local and seasonal produce and goods for our members to cook delicious meals, eat healthfully, and support local farms. We spoke with executive director Casey Spacht of Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op to give you a deeper view of who is supplying our co-op.
How did Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op start?
We started in 2006 with seven farmers who wanted to create a sustainable model for a local food system in Lancaster County. Up until this time there was something of a food desert here with most of our local goods getting shipped out of the area.
How has the LFFC helped your community?
We created a food hub that local farmers can now rely and plan on. We have a model that works and it created a network of farmer/consumer connections that help make this viable for future generations.
Who are your farmers?
Our farmers are great folks who work very hard to produce amazing fruits, veggies, eggs, meats, and dairy. They have integrity to do what’s right and not to use chemicals or GMOs. We are certified organic and create a culture of like-minded individuals around us.
How is the co-op run?
We are a nonprofit farmers cooperative. We have a board of farmers and an executive director who oversees day-to-day operations.
Do you feel that the Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op helps promote the move back to organic foods and non-GMO fruits and vegetables?
Yes. By creating a viable outlet for our farmers we have created a movement here in Lancaster County. It’s all about education!
How do you decide what to plant every season?
It’s based on what our customers want and what the farmer can grow.
How do the farmers use organic practices?
We maintain our soils using compost, biologicals, bio-char, and other healthy soil amendments. We also use biological and some biodynamic foliar sprays for the plants.
How is LFFC different from other farm co-ops?
We don’t just buy product in and re-sell like most other groups in the area. We are truly involved every step of the way with our farmers. If there wasn’t a LFFC here, then a lot of these farmers would not be farming period.
How will the co-op expand?
We are looking at multiple expansion efforts in the future. Meat and dairy expansions are on the horizon.
What is your relationship with New York City?
It’s awesome! We have been coming up to NYC even before we were a co-op. So it helps to expand on existing routes and customers.
Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op is a fresh local produce provider. Local means that the food is picked at its peak and less time is needed before it gets to your table. It also helps support the farms and family who grow this produce. These farmers aren’t hiding anything—we know them and they know us. The Bushwick Food Coop is the place to shop if you are looking to go organic and support local farms at the same time. A cooperative is a great way to help keep the cost down with shared labor. Cooperatives also help support other cooperatives as well. The Bushwick Food Coop supports Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op by buying their produce and helping to spread the word about them. Lancaster Farm Fresh is a great cooperative that helps farmers keep their jobs while providing us with tons of local, fresh, and organic food.
For more information, visit lancasterfarmfresh.com.