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Summerland Produce delivers farmers market fruits and veggies to DTLA residents

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012, at 11:13AM
Hayley Fox/blogdowntown

A box of heirloom tomatoes in their new DTLA facility.

An Arts District resident who began her business out of her apartment in the Molino Lofts by delivering fruits and veggies to neighbors, is now taking Summerland Produce to the next phase -- with a move into a refrigerated storage facility on 8th and Alameda.

"It's enough space for us to really grow this into a major thing," said Charlie Davis, a co-owner and one of the approximately 5-person team who's now working for Summerland.

Company owner Angelika Tesch said she has always liked entertaining; going to local markets, stocking up on goods and cooking for friends. When residents in her building began to take notice, she started delivering boxes of goodies to them as well.

Now, her company is delivering an average of 50 to 100 boxes a week, mostly to Downtown residents. Their storage space is dotted with crates of heirloom tomatoes, Golden Nugget tangerines and Jerusalem artichokes, but has plenty of room to grow. Davis expects this new space will allow them to deliver up to about 1,000 boxes a week.

Although farmers markets have exploded in popularity in recent years, Davis said many of their clients are working professionals and young couples -- with time constraints.

"As much as everyone's intentions are to get out to the farmers market every week, we all know that kind of rarely happens," he said.

So Summerland Produce aims to get people on track to healthier eating through convenience; so customers are "reaching for a pluot rather than a bag of chips," Davis said.

Although there are many of these markets on the Eastside and in Downtown, Tesch said she frequents Santa Monica's Wednesday farmers market, because it's aimed at chefs, and maintains strict rules about what can be sold and who can sell it.

"We really want people to be able to make restaurant style dishes with high-end restaurant ingredients, at home," Tesch said. "We have a lot of relationships with farmers there that work with really high-end restaurants, so through that we're able to source different items that actually aren't available at the market."

Each box is carefully built by Tesch based on what's best and what's fresh at the markets and through collaboration with a network of farmers and chefs. Davis likens Summerland to the restaurant AOC in West Hollywood -- well-curated and highly seasonal.

"Its not a build-your-own-burger place and we're kind of not that way either," he said.

Customers receive weekly, bi-weekly or monthly produce deliveries, and have six different options for what they can receive -- including different ratios of fruits and veggies. Each box comes with a few recipes that use that week's ingredients; everything from spicy zucchini fritters to artichoke and potato casserole or a blueberry walnut salad.

Boxes start at $29 and go up to $49 for the large, all-fruit box.

"We're able to pass on a lot of savings -- from not having the overhead a supermarket has -- on to our customers," said Davis, who said that despite fuel and delivery costs, their overhead is low compared to big supermarket chains that must maintain massive cooler spaces and a long roster of employees.


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