Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Rilko.
Alex, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After a few years of selling at the Athens Farmers Market, local restaurants and having our own little CSA, I started thinking about how could we work with other farmer friends to achieve our common goal of providing fresh, local produce to the community. Rather than compete, we could collaborate and help grow all of our businesses. After some nudging, the 3 founding farms got together over a couple beers and some pizza and Collective Harvest was born.
Has it been a smooth road?
As with all new businesses, there were many challenges. In our first year, we soon realized the importance of coordinating our crop plan so that we would have enough product to fill our weekly CSA shares. It didn’t take us long to all get on the same page and I believe this is what has made Collective Harvest successful.
We also realized, we can’t do everything on our own. There are too many moving parts. We hired a CSA Manager, Rachel Vaughan. Rachel has supported us by managing all the day to day activities and deliveries. We also just hired a Wholesale Manager, Amanda Holmes. They have been instrumental in our growth.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Collective Harvest is a collaboration of family farms that provides sustainably grown produce to Athens area communities. Co-owned by three small farms, Collective Harvest was born from the farmers’ desire to foster a stronger connection between small-scale farms and the local community. Jacqui Coburn and Alex Rilko of Front Field Farm (Winterville, GA), Carter and Shelley Dodd of Diamond Hill Farm (Hull, GA) and Mike and Iwalani Farfour of Full Moon Farm (Winterville, GA), came together in 2015 with a plan to improve the financial well-being of small farms and to increase food access opportunities within their community. They hoped that by combining their efforts to crop plan, market and distribute produce, they would be able to make real connections between people, land and food.
Through Collective Harvest, members can sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in which members make a commitment to their local farmers by prepaying for a season’s worth of produce and, in turn, receive a weekly “share” of the harvest throughout the season. The CSA model enriches the community by bringing people closer to their food sources while allowing farmers to focus on growing.
What started as a three-farm collective has grown rapidly in the last few years to include eight farms, over 200 CSA members, two full time staff members and over a dozen regular restaurant customers. Collective Harvest has been able to offer discounted CSA shares to low-income families in the Athens area. Member farms have also seen increased sales and yields through Collective Harvest: two farms have been able to keep full-time farm workers through the Winter for the very first time this year.
Collective Harvest is dedicated to enriching the local economy and sustaining the land with the help of farmers, other small businesses and the community at large.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Sure! An increasing population and plenty of forward momentum around the local food movement make Atlanta a great place for businesses like ours.
- CSA Full Share (30 weeks of local produce from April to November 2018, 8-10 items per week), $30/week or $900 for the season
- CSA Value Share (30 weeks of local produce from April to November 2018, 5-7 items per week), $20/week or $600 for the season
- Address: 940 W. Broad St
Athens, GA, 30601
- Website: www.collectiveharvestathens.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/collectiveharvest
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/collectiveharvestathens
Rachel Vaughan, Andre Gallant, Austin Steele, Kendall McWilliams