Started in 2005, Harvest Local Foods LLC is owned and operated by Mary Ann Ford of Drexel Hill and Pam Nelson of West Philadelphia.
We and our staff have a passion for food that is grown with care for the land, animals, workers, and with regard for people who eat the food. We think this is happy food, and it is essential for the ongoing health of our families, our communities and our planet. We aim to make your local, organic grocery delivery or order pick-up experience a delicious one!
Mary Ann Ford, Co-founder
Mary Ann is a lifelong environmentalist... beginning the night she, at age twelve, slept on the banks of the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The majestic canyon walls loomed above, framing a black sky that could hardly contain the billions of twinkling diamonds hung there. In those moments, Mary Ann discovered her place in the universe--a speck in that immensity, yet a powerful woman who had hiked six miles down into this blazing hot space and who would hike ten miles to get out.
Many years later, as an adult environmentalist, upon learning that the average American's food travels 1500 miles to the table, she asked herself, "How can I call myself an environmentalist and use up that much fuel just for my food?" From a personal level to a community level, and now through Harvest Local Foods, Mary Ann has committed herself to increasing the markets for local farmers and food producers, thereby reducing that 1500 mile average. The mother of two grown daughters, Mary Ann lives in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania with her organic garden and her Philadelphia 76ers T-shirts, flags and souvenir photos.
Pam Nelson, Co-founder
Pam grew up on three acres in the suburbs of Boston. To a little girl, those three acres were a natural haven in which she spent countless hours playing and just being. She, also, loved the fresh vegetables that grew in her grandfather’s garden and took special pleasure picking ripe tomatoes and eating them right there in the garden, the juice dripping down her chin. Her innocent trust in the wholesomeness of her environment was shattered one day, when, after drinking from a stream near her home, she learned that the stream was polluted. As she grew, she became aware of the many ways that people were damaging the earth and themselves.
Since she moved to West Philadelphia almost 30 years ago, Pam has worked for various non-profit organizations on peace and social justice, ethnic tolerance, and, more recently, healthful food as a staff person at Mariposa Food Coop. For Pam, Harvest Local Foods is a way to contribute to the healing of the earth and its inhabitants, and to share the joys of eating food that’s fresh from the earth and bursting with life.
Steph is our Packing Crew Chief, and has been with Harvest Local Foods since May 2012. Steph grew up in Mundys Corner, Pa, which is about 1-½ hours west of Pittsburgh. She enjoys biking, traveling, gardening, playing guitar, cooking/baking, and veganism.
When asked what she enjoys most about working at Harvest Local Foods, she replied, “HLF is a fun environment with great people who all share a passion for supporting local agriculture.” Steph’s favorite vegetables are leafy greens, and her last meal would consist of: veggie sushi, homemade pizza from the garden, and coconut milk ice cream.
Emily has been with Harvest Local Foods since 2012, and works as a packer. Emily grew up in Center City Philadelphia, and enjoys design, gardening, cooking, exercise and reading.
When asked what she enjoys most about working at Harvest Local Foods, she replied, “I love seeing all the new and beautiful produce.” Emily’s favorite vegetables are onions, and her last meal would consist of: shrimp cocktail, grilled octopus, eggplant pizza, chocolate mousse pie, and espresso.
Timothy has been with Harvest Local Foods since 2012, and works as a packer. Timothy grew up in Cumberland, Maryland, and enjoys reading, coffee shops and discussions about current events.
When asked what he enjoys most about working for Harvest Local Foods, he replied, “I love the people I work with, and I like knowing that HLF is conscience about where our food is produced and the fair treatment of the farm workers.”
Jane has been with Harvest Local Foods since 2011, and works as a delivery driver. Jane grew up in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and enjoys pottery, photography, hiking, yoga, and gardening.
When asked what she enjoys about working for Harvest Local Foods, she replied, “I love that we make food and products available to a wide range of people, while supporting local farmers.” For her last meal, Jane would like a strawberry rhubarb pie with ice cream to satisfy her “wicked sweet-tooth”.
Paul has been with Harvest Local Foods since 2011, and is the Inventory Manager. Paul grew up in Havertown, Pa and enjoys photography, camping, astrology, gardening and knitting.
When asked what Paul enjoys most about Harvest Local Foods, he replied, “I like the idea of procuring foods from local producers and supporting healthy, fair food systems.” For his last meal, Paul would like, “something simple and good.”
Stephen is our most recent addition who is serving as a marketing intern from Drexel University. Stephen has a strong culinary background and is also a graduate from The Culinary Institute of America.
When asked what Stephen likes most about Harvest Local Foods, he replied, “I love everything HLF stands for, from supporting the local community through sustainable agriculture to supporting farmers. It doesn’t get much better then this!” For his last meal, Stephen would like, Soy-glazed flank steak, roasted-garlic mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus.
Ronin A. Al-Rashid-Hollins
Ronin has been with Harvest Local Foods since March 2013, and is a Delivery Driver. Ronin grew up in Northern New Jersey, and enjoys music, drumming and singing; in fact, Ronin has his own band, Jelly Roll!
When asked what Ronin enjoys most about working for Harvest Local Foods, he replied, “I like the people and also knowing that I am delivering a wholesome product.” Ronin’s favorite vegetable is spinach, and for his last meal Ronin would like, mashed potatoes, baked fish (salmon), broccoli, wild rice and a big bowl of banana pudding.
The Birth of Harvest Local Foods
In early 2006, by a wonderful synchronicity, Harvest Local Foods (nee Farm Fresh Express) was born. Here’s how it happened:
Two women – one in Drexel Hill and one in West Philadelphia – both dreamed of creating businesses that would be personally meaningful and socially beneficial. Both had grown up with vivid experiences of natural beauty. Both loved eating fresh food and both know that America’s current food systems are hazardous to the environment, to small-scale farmers, and to public health. For both, the local foods movement held intrigue and sparked imagination. Each was doing research in 2005 on markets for local foods; Pam Nelson was exploring a subscription model for door-to-door delivery of local foods; Mary Ann Ford was learning, from volunteer work at the Fair Food Farmstand—a local foods stand in the Reading Terminal Market -- that many people were looking for a more convenient way to shop for local foods than coming into the city. In the thought bubble hanging over each of their heads was the germ of an idea: what if I had a business that brought local foods to customers’ homes, in just the amounts and varieties they wanted? What if….?
Pam began talking with everyone she could find with a connection to local foods (including the director of the Fair Food Farmstand) and Mary Ann attended a six-week entrepreneur’s course, after which Farm Fresh Express was officially birthed with the state of PA. After only two months and five customers, Mary Ann could foresee that the business she wanted would be more work than one person could handle. Then… in January of 2006 came the auspicious phone call…. “Hi, I’m Pam Nelson and I got your name from someone at the Fair Food Farmstand. Can we talk?”
Two months later, bound only by their shared vision, Pam and Mary Ann had hashed out a twenty page agreement addressing every nasty contingency that might arise to ruin a business partnership. They set up the “office” in Mary Ann’s basement and the storage area in a 12’ X 8’ walk-in fridge (shared with Fair Food Farmstand) with about 30 cubic feet of shelves for their inventory. One day a week Pam and Mary Ann packed local produce into customers’ boxes (five to ten of them by then), added ice-filled Tupperware containers and loaded them into Mary Ann’s Prius for delivery to customers’ homes. It’s lucky there wasn’t a charge for using the sidewalks at 11th and Filbert Streets as the staging area when it was too crowded inside the market!
Since then, Harvest Local Foods has grown to over one hundred orders a week, in spite of a down-trodden economy, a cease and desist order for alleged trademark infringement (hence, the new name), five years of 60-70 hour work weeks, and the many other daily challenges of entrepreneurship. The dream both women dreamed has become a place, a service, a process, a product, a team, a business. The new dreams are of a fleet of vans making hundreds of deliveries a week, a local-foods grocery store overflowing with customers, a stream of millions of dollars flowing to local farmers and food producers and a well-funded foundation telling the stories of farmers and encouraging women to become farmers. Sound ambitious? Not to Pam and Mary Ann and the team. In their book of business, dreams are made for birthing.
- To deliver the freshest, healthiest food available in the Delaware Valley to health-conscious consumers at their homes or businesses, to food service and health-oriented businesses for their clientele, and to consumers with physical limitations who cannot get out to shop;
- To expand the market for local farmers and food artisans by supplying fresh produce, meats, dairy products, and other comestibles to consumers who would not otherwise buy them;
- To help educate consumers about the benefits of eating locally grown and/or produced foods and
- To operate an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, for-profit business that operates with a triple bottom line: people, planet, profits.
- Sue W
“Thank you so much for providing such a great service! Shopping with a one year old is next to impossible and now we are both happier and healthier.”
- Olivia L.
“I loved everything. I had forgotten how real asparagus tasted and the lettuce made me want to be a bunny forever.”
- Betty O.
“Thanks for all the produce! Looks wonderful, as usual. My kids helped unload the cooler and during the process my five-year-old said excitedly, I love when that lady comes! Plus, I love her and the apples she brings!”
- Krista W.
“"...Also, I loved Mary Ann's description of the farmers in this week's news letter. I really enjoy the farmer profiles. My Dad grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm and several of my cousins still farm in Wisconsin. I'm glad you're introducing us to the farmers who provide our food."”
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