My Long-Awaited Trip to Tierra Farm
by Zach Chupa, Bulk Department Manager
On Monday, July 9, I took a trip to one of our best and most relied upon vendors, Tierra Farm, and enjoyed a tour of their property.
Located in the Hudson Valley of New York, Tierra Farm occupies a rather small footprint facility that outputs a substantial amount of product for its size. Their business has been growing exponentially over the past few years, which is very similar to Harvest Market – small footprint and huge output towards their community of customers while responding to changes in infrastructure and adjusting operating practices accordingly. Their practices in production and quality of product have never diminished within that time of remarkable growth.
Tierra Farm and Harvest Market share some core ideals in daily operation. Here at Harvest Market, our philosophy and implementation of some core principles is what, we feel, sets us apart from the crowd of local food retailers. Part of our philosophy says:
“Harvest Market provides our community with the highest quality, most nourishing foods and related products available while conducting our business in socially responsible ways that are both sustainable and rewarding for our customers, our employees, our producers and our environment.
Harvest Market’s product guidelines are strict. Like many independently owned natural foods stores we do not sell foods with artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Our emphasis has always been to stock the broadest selection of organically grown foods. Locally produced and Fair Trade products are likewise important to us.”
Similarly, Tierra Farm puts an emphasis on distributing organically grown and Fair Trade supported products. Part of their business philosophy is as follows:
“One of our core values has been to cultivate strong relationships with the best organic farmers in the world. Every year, we purchase an increasing amount of our nuts, seeds, and dried fruit directly from the farms, some of which we have worked with for over a decade. Our level of knowledge and communication with our farmers allows us to preserve our organic integrity and ensure fair business practices throughout the supply chain.
Tierra Farm handles only certified-organic products which are grown without synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or chemical fertilizers. This sustains biodiversity, conserves fresh water, and enhances the soil. We generate over 70% of our electricity from solar panels and recycle over 60% of our waste. Our boxes are made from recycled cardboard and our deli cup containers are made from over 50% recycled material—both are recyclable after use. We’re continuously looking for better ways to protect the planet.”
Their impressively designed and streamlined facility supports a massive intake of fresh raw product, sourced ethically from farmers all over the world. Those ingredients are transformed through time-tested and quality-assured methods into a finished product that is second to none. Their production process goes from accepting only the highest quality of ingredients, oven-roasting nuts and seed, offering raw ingredients and dried fruits, making chocolate and roasting coffees all from raw cacao and green coffee beans, then packaging, labeling, packing, preserving in short term cold storage, and distributing all over the country. That level of integrity through that entire process allows Tierra Farm to maintain a consistency, which enables their amazing growth.
The people behind the scenes – customer service, packers and shippers, roasters, administration and other personnel – work within a company culture that is equal to the importance of their business practices. They have recently been selected one of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies by Inc. 5000. Every single Tierra Farm employee makes a living wage of at $15 per hour, and enjoys a comprehensive health benefits program, as well as a retirement plan and an onsite, organic lunch. That type of commitment to their company culture not only supports their business practice, but also is a seamless aspect of who they are and how they end up marketing their product.
When their product arrives to us, that care and attention to all their ideals are evident. This makes our mission to offer the best products even easier.
The pictures and captions that follow can give an idea of my experience at Tierra Farm.