Farm Table Delivery announces new non-profit status and founding board members
HARLAN — Starting on January 1, 2024, the Harlan-based food hub formerly known as FarmTable Procurement and Delivery has transitioned into a new non-profit corporation called Farm Table Delivery. Founded in 2013 by Ellen Walsh-Rosmann as a private business, for the last decade the FarmTable food hub built a distribution network spanning from Omaha to Des Moines and across western Iowa, connecting households, wholesale buyers, and institutions interested in purchasing locally produced food with a wide array of producers in Iowa, eastern Nebraska, and southeast Wisconsin. The new non-profit Farm Table Delivery will continue to serve producers, makers, buyers, and customers in its network without disruption in its locations, routes, ordering software, or sales cycles. The entire staff has transitioned to the new nonprofit and the warehouse location at 1806 Industrial Parkway in Harlan remains the same.
The goal of this transition, according to board president Michelle Moyes Dill, is to put FarmTable on a long-term sustainable financial and operational footing to continue to serve producers and buyers in Iowa and Nebraska.
Unlike conventional distribution models for large food brands and corporate farming operations, bringing the products of emerging specialty farmers and cottage food makers to market takes extra time in scouting, coaching, and generating their first sales. The non-profit status will allow Farm Table Delivery to recoup the high go-to-market expenses by accessing grants and donations to keep these vital economic development services for locally focused and small-scale farmers and food producers. In addition, Farm Table and other food hubs around the state of Iowa, thanks to an influx of USDA funding over the last several years, have increasingly been serving schools, food banks, and food pantries with large quantities of locally produced food. This food access work is grant funded and requires extra effort in procurement and delivery that may not be recouped through sales of products alone. Nonprofit status will allow Farm Table to pursue long-term funding to continue and grow this vital food access work alongside serving long-standing household and wholesale customers.
Board secretary Tommy Hexter notes that “Farm Table has a deep legacy in creating the robust Iowa local food system that exists today - complete with refrigerated trucks, pallet jacks, and regular distribution to institutional buyers and individual customers. This move to become a non-profit builds on the solid foundation the food hub is built on and will allow it to persist and expand into the future with the full confidence of its 80 producers and hundreds of customers.”
Michelle Moyes Dill spoke about FarmTable Delivery’s founder, Ellen Walsh-Rosmann: “Ellen built a vital and important local food hub that empowered producers and accelerated brands by aggregating and distributing their goods. Her legacy fuels Farm Table Delivery’s strategic shift to a nonprofit strengthening critical infrastructure and supporting emerging food enterprises across the Midwest.”
FarmTable’s new board of directors has been named and announced. Their collective and diverse experience within many aspects of the food system will help guide Farm Table Delivery to successfully fulfill its mission as a nonprofit.
Board president, Michelle Moyes Dill, is a passionate food systems advocate and former food brand with FarmTable Delivery. She has dedicated over a decade to empowering small producers, optimizing supply chains, and nurturing entrepreneurial food enterprises in both Iowa and Nebraska. Her 25-year career in nonprofit executive leadership and fundraising will help transition FarmTable Delivery into its next chapter.
Ale Murguia-Ortiz, treasurer, coordinates the food rescue program for Supply Hive. This program distributes, on average, over $400,000 of food per month to community fridges and partners in the Des Moines area. Along with this work, Ale is a Des Moines-based community organizer and artist.
Board secretary, Tommy Hexter, is the executive director of local food hub Grinnell Farm To Table and Rural Organizer and Educator with the Iowa Farmers Union. He grew up on a small vegetable and egg farm in Central Virginia and studied food systems and anthropology at Grinnell College from 2017-2021 and has a dream of one day working on a collective farm again. Throughout his life and career, he has developed the passion and expertise for supporting small farmers and local and regional food systems through policy advocacy and market development.
Guiding the transition since October has been Jordan Scheibel, interim executive director and operations manager. Jordan is better known for his Certified Naturally Grown vegetable farm operation, Middle Way Farm, based in Grinnell, which he has called home for the last 17 years. Having recently scaled down his farming operation after 10 years, Jordan was able to take on the role of shepherding Farm Table through this critical transition and plans to return to running his farm operation part-time in the summer. Prior to his current position, Jordan had a long-standing relationship with FarmTable Procurement & Delivery as a customer and producer and has also worked extensively with the Grinnell Farm to Table food hub as a founder, producer, and board member. A permanent executive director will be hired in the next few months and announced later in the spring.
Anyone interested in signing up as a customer or becoming a producer with Farm Table Delivery can visit their website at farmtabledelivery.com for more information. Online orders are open year-round every week from Friday morning to Sunday night for delivery the following week. Products available include locally produced produce, fruit, dairy, eggs, meat, grains, flours and more. Orders are picked up in Harlan at the warehouse on Thursdays and Fridays, delivered to Des Moines area businesses and schools on Wednesdays, and picked up and delivered in Omaha on Thursdays. Walk-in customers are also welcome at the Harlan warehouse located at 1806 Industrial Parkway from 8 am - 5 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Farm Table Delivery can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.