With a goal of training consumers to eat both seasonally and locally, the owners of a new Lititz-area food box company say they will put a portion of their profits toward preserving Lancaster County farms.
More specifically, Diana Smedley and Gabriel Luber, co-founders of Lancaster Local Provisions, say they will share their earnings with Lancaster Farmland Trust, a nonprofit geared toward farmland preservation.
“Our mission couldn’t be more aligned with Lancaster Farmland Trust,” Luber said, stressing the importance of local food systems. “It all begins with farmland and farmers.”
The couple said their interest in local, seasonal foods long predates the grand opening of Lancaster Local Provisions earlier this month.
In fact, they carried those ideals to Lancaster County, when they moved to the area from New York shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. They chose the Lititz area because it’s where Smedley grew up, they said.
Soon after, Smedley said they began work toward launching their business, which is an online shopping platform that sells farm goods and delivers them each week to customers in a service area that covers most of Lancaster County.
Farm products are marketed both individually and through customizable subscription food boxes, which are packed at the company’s Clay Township base. The couple also has created meal kits — boxes filled with ingredients to make specific recipes.
According to the couple, they are picky about the items they sell — choosing only those goods that are grown seasonally, locally and sustainably.
“We will never have tomatoes in February,” Smedley said.
With those parameters, the couple said they currently sell food from more than 100 sources — farms and cooperatives — within a 200-mile radius of Lancaster County.
Focusing on locality, Luber said he hopes the business will help to cut vehicle emissions like the ones related to the long-distance transportation of nonseasonal produce to traditional grocery stores.
“Why are we choosing to eat food that is grown thousands of miles away?” Luber said. “The whole system doesn’t work anymore.”
That’s why supporting local growers and preserving Lancaster County farmland is important, the couple said.
To that end, they created “save-a-farm” meal kits. Starting at $35, all profits are donated to the Lancaster Farmland Trust, which conserves farmland to ensure it cannot be developed for anything other than agriculture.
Profit on the save-a-farm kits amounts to about half of the cost to purchase one, Smedley said, adding that customers also can choose to donate additional dollars to the trust.
Since the 1980s, the trust has preserved 32,180 acres on 529 farms, according to spokeswoman Laura Brenner. The average size of a preserved farm is about 78 acres, she said.
The cost to preserve each farm is different, so Brenner was reluctant to specify an average cost, but she said the trust has paid more than $1,000 an acre at some locations.
Speaking about the partnership with Lancaster Local Provisions, Brenner said trust officials are happy to add another funding source.
“It’s certainly another egg in the basket,” Brenner said, explaining she’s hopeful the partnership also will help to raise awareness among consumers about the trust’s work. “For us, it’s another way to connect. Food is kind of a universal connector.”