For Imperfect, delivering to a new area involves putting down roots there – literally. Whenever we expand to a new area, we start to build out a network of local growers to support by buying their “ugly” and surplus produce. In honor of our Milwaukee launch, we wanted to share the backstory of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative, one of our biggest farm partners in the Midwest.
The WFHC is an inspiring farming coop with over 45 members, including 4 Amish members, representing dozens of Amish farms. With the exception of one grower in Northern Illinois, all of the growers are proudly Wisconsin based. This exceptional network of farmers grows over 55 different types of produce year-round.
According to Tara Roberts Turner of the WFHC, being able to sell “seconds” (industry-speak for “ugly” produce) has been a huge financial asset for Wisconsin’s farming community. Roberts Turner told us that:
“Working with retail grocery stores is really challenging as a smaller coop, as 30% of your harvest each year could end up as waste because of cosmetic standards. Working with Imperfect gives them more flexibility and helps their bottom line.”
Staying afloat as a farmer is very difficult some years, even for larger growers. For example, one of the WFHC’s largest cucumber growers was facing a year where they weren’t going to be able to turn a profit from their cucumber harvest. Thanks to our connection with the WFHC, they were able to sell their “ugly” cucumbers and turn a profit. Who knew curvy cucumbers could be so powerful?
We’re happy to provide financial support to hard-working farmers at a time when the changing economics of farming in Wisconsin have made it harder than ever for Wisconsin’s farmers to make ends meet. Roberts Turner informed us that Wisconsin’s farms have historically not focused on growing for retail, instead focusing on the cannery market, which has looser cosmetic standards. Unfortunately, when canneries started moving out of Wisconsin, growers were faced with the scary reality that up to 30% of their harvest each year would go to waste and result in a financial loss. Thankfully, this would-be food waste and lost profit is now transformed into delicious additions to our Milwaukee Imperfect boxes.
We’re proud to help support Wisconsin’s farming community through our partnership with the Wisconsin Food Hub and we are excited to share their local, Wisconsin-grown bounty with you in your next box! We can’t wait to see what you end up cooking with it!