A food entrepreneur widening the market for farmers and consumers
Across Georgia, entréeprenuers are opening avenues for farmers and consumers alike. This article is part of a series profiling these local heroes. Click here to see more.
Company: Turnip Truck of Georgia
Founder: Michael Schenck
Money Spent on Georgia Produce: $614,439.23
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a farmer.
You’ve just spent weeks – months, even – building soil, mulching, planting, weeding, and harvesting. Now you have to sell your produce.
Before The Turnip Truck was founded in 2008, that meant delivery costs, additional accounting requirements, and more labor costs–all of which are exponentially more expensive the further from Atlanta you are.
That’s where the Turnip Truck comes in.
“The Turnip Truck is an asset to the community in Atlanta and beyond because [Schenck and this team] aggregate the produce, make sure things are utilized properly, and suddenly farmers have between 4 to maybe 10 extra hours a week,” said Maurice Small, Farm Manager at Truly Living Well Center for Urban Agriculture in Atlanta. “It’s a much more efficient use of fuel, time for farmers, and for buyers on the other end, and it creates jobs.”
“The Turnip Truck has been crucial to uplift the local food movement,” said Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls. “Georgia Organics introduced the Turnip Truck to an investor who provided an infusion of capital when they needed it. We helped the Turnip Truck expand and that enabled our farmers and our movement grow at a faster rate than they otherwise would have.”
After developing their infrastructure, the Turnip Truck now provides Atlanta area restaurants, schools, and institutions with the finest locally grown vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and other foods, as well as specialty items, all while saving farmers valuable time and money.
“We try to set it up where people can come to us, drop it off, get a check, take home the check, and go grow good food,” said founder Michael Schenck. “That is really the whole idea of it.”
Over the years, a huge part of Turnip Truck’s growth came from working closely with growers to plan what crops to grow, what size they should be, grading to meet customer needs, packaging and post-harvest handling to ensure that the product looks like it should and has the shelf life necessary to be successful in the marketplace.
“Once these procedures and systems are in place, we can provide long term commitments to purchase product that help the farms grow their business in a real, significant and sustainable way,” said Schenck.
To put it simply, the Turnip Truck has blazed a trail for many to follow, changing the landscape for farmers and eaters, while getting farmers back to work they do best: growing good food.
This fall, The Turnip Truck of Georgia has partnered with Georgia Organics and growers like Local Lands Farm, East GA Produce, Red Earth Organics and Crystal Organics to grow Spinach for your school’s October Farm to School Month promotion! Click here to find out more.