Imagine a box of fresh local produce gets delivered to your apartment doorstep. Does it get devoured as a welcome alternative to campus options or rot alongside last night's leftovers from The Cellar?
Last week, residents of the 1500, 1600 and 1700 blocks of the University Forest Apartments received a knock at the door, not to find a box of produce, but rather a fellow student advocating fresh food delivery.
Celeste Reppond, a University of Richmond senior, considers herself on a journey of health, she said. Reppond is a weekly volunteer "food buddy" for Horse and Buggy Produce, a company based in Charlottesville, Va., which connects local farms with fresh produce-seeking people in Richmond, Charlottesville and Lynchburg.
Horse and Buggy Produce started in 2006 after the founder Brett Wilson's business of selling spray-free tomatoes to local restaurants grew in demand and branched beyond the local businesses to family homes, according to the company's website.
Reppond connected with the company through a friend who had signed on to be a food buddy as a way to help pay her grocery bills.
"I'm a broke college kid," Reppond said. "I need to pay my grocery bills, and I want to eat healthy, too, so I would like to deliver to kind of off-set the cost of my groceries."
Reppond lived in the Fan this summer and said that she would often drive 30 minutes for quality produce.
"There's definitely a need in the city for fresh produce," she said.
Now, along with volunteering to deliver other people's food, Reppond is a Horse and Buggy customer as well.
It's hard to eat all of the contents of the produce within the week, she said, especially if your roommates aren't overly health-conscious. But Reppond appreciates that she knows she's eating whatever has come out of the ground that week, she said.
Most of Horse and Buggy Produce's weekly selections come straight from various Charlottesville farms on Monday or Tuesday, said the regional manager Tabitha Johnson. On Tuesday, if there is not enough produce from the chosen farms, Horse and Buggy managers go to a produce auction, where food from other local produce is presented and sold. Customers can also add fruit boxes and various meal boxes that include bread, eggs and various local meats. The boxes are made Tuesday night and packed up for Wednesday delivery, Johnson said.
The Jewish Community Center on Monument Avenue and the Short Pump Shopping Center are the two drop-off stops in the Richmond area, Reppond said. The company delivers to homes in Glen Allen and Short Pump, Tuckahoe, Henrico, West End, the Fan, Southside, Bon Air and Midlothian, according to the company website.
After delivering an average of nine boxes around the neighborhoods surrounding University of Richmond's campus, Reppond brings her own boxes back to the 1600 block apartments.
"It's been fun in my apartment trying to figure out how to eat all of the vegetables for the week."
Reppond started handing out fliers around the apartments last week because she thought this company was a smart solution to the insufficient amount of fresh produce on campus, she said.
"With a campus of health-conscious students, it could really take off," she said. Learning to cook various vegetables creates a sense of community, Reppond said. She hoped it would catch on in sororities or senior women's apartments.
Samantha Hunt, a University of Richmond senior living in the university apartments, said she thought Horse and Buggy Produce delivery would be a great idea if students split the cost with roommates.
Alicia Tamarkin, her apartmentmate, agreed. "The only problem is we're so busy, it would probably go bad sometimes," Tamarkin said.
Tamarkin thought that mostly female students would be interested in the program.
"Then again, if it's delivered to your door, boys might do it too," she said. The smallest food box available feeds about two people per week and costs less than 30 dollars, Reppond said. Every Monday customers are emailed a list of the contents of their box that week and are given the option to swap out anything they don't want.
"$15 for a week's worth of fresh organic local produce is a pretty good deal," Reppond said. "For what you get, from getting it delivered to your door and the quality, I think it definitely makes sense."
Contact staff writer Kylie McKenna at email@example.com