26: Dylan Baird

Dylan wanted to let you know that local asparagus is right around the corner, perhaps this week!

Show Notes

  • Dylan Baird is the co-founder and CEO of Philly FoodWorks
    • He moved to Philly in 2009 to attend Temple University
    • Dylan created an urban farm in 2010, while at Urban Tree Connection, (UTC) a nonprofit working to revitalize Philadelphia's marginalized neighborhoods
    • A lot was happening surrounding urban farming in Philadelphia in 2010
    • Their goal was to create a financially sustainable urban farming business
    • UTC also created a farmer's market and the Neighborhood Foods Co-op, both of which still exist today
    • However, they pivoted away from urban farming upon realizing they'd be dependent on grants
  • This pivot is what launched Philly FoodWorks
    • Dylan and his co-founder realized distribution was a problem for local farmers
    • In farming, the product doesn't always come in exactly when you need it and it doesn't wait until you have a sale
      • They created a local distribution hub for local farmers
      • You receive a produce box
        • Essentially, you can pick what you'd like to receive, or you let them choose it for you
        • Pick it up at a designated pick-up point
        • Or have it delivered to your home
    • They also work with farmers on the supply-side to ensure they are growing things that Philly FoodWorks customers will want to purchase
    • One of their larger farmers also acts as a hub for other farmers with less yield
      • Without the hub near the farms of Philadelphia, it wouldn't be economically viable for the low-yield-farmers to drive into Philadelphia and sell their product
  • Because larger companies like Amazon have entered the produce delivery space, many CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) and urban farms have closed
  • For example, the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal is closing after pioneering the local food movement in Philly
  • Philly FoodWorks' competitive edge is their bright team constantly tightening the process and improving efficiency
  • Another edge is their personal relationships with their producers
  • Dylan half-jokes that it's important to support local agriculture to prevent the destruction of the world
    • He admits that large distribution companies are more efficient with fossil fuel use
    • However, it's about creating a food system over which people have some control
      • He points out that food is the core of every major holiday
  • Their next step is to partner with other organizations with similar missions in other areas to create an equitable East-coast food distribution hub