8 Questions with Grant Anderson of Better Fresh Farms
One of the best parts of being part of the Freight Farms team is talking to our freight farmers and hearing about their successes, their businesses, their customers, and their challenges. They are a wealth of information, so now we are sharing some of their stories with you!
Grant Anderson has always had a passion for food, so in 2016 he launched Better Fresh Farms, operating out of his two Leafy Green Machines in Guyton, Georgia. In addition to providing fresh produce to local restaurants and directly to his customers at Forsyth Farmer's Market, Grant makes a point to increase accessibility to hyperlocal food in his community by donating to several food pantries in his region. We recently spoke to Grant about his experience freight farming, his thoughts on local food, and his plans for the future.
Freight Farms (FF): What, if any was your experience with farming before becoming a Freight Farmer?
Grant Anderson (GA): I was raised by my grandparents, farming for our own personal consumption as well as for church and family friends. It was apparent to me from an early age how much people truly appreciate fresh veggies. During college, I also spent a summer working for a local farmer as both a farm hand and cotton and soybean scout. That experience sparked my interest in farming; however, I never had any long-standing aspirations to farm as a career, I’ve simply always been passionate about food!
FF: What kinds of crops do you grow?
GA: Our farm focuses mainly on growing butterhead, bibb, oak leaf, and romaine lettuces, but we also produce a small variety of hearty greens and herbs as well. I’m always open to trying something new, so I test a few new crops each month to keep my customers guessing.
FF: How did you find out about Freight Farms?
GA: In January 2016 I read an article on CNN Money about the Cooney’s and how they began Corner Stalk Farms utilizing the systems Freight Farms had designed. That article really piqued my interest and ended up being the beginning of my journey.
FF: Share your favorite customer stories with us!
GA: I consistently hear stories from our customers about how they’ve prepared or used our produce in ways we are not typically familiar with. One of our customers once ate an entire bag of our mustard greens raw while walking around the Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah, GA! Another shared how they used our radishes as cocktail garnishes. We’re always learning new ways people like to enjoy our food!
FF: What are your plans for the future?
GA: I would love to add additional containers and equipment to become a large-scale regional provider of fresh, clean food, as well as a source of education for our local schools and community members. With so much focus on fresh, healthy and local food offerings, there is an excellent opportunity to not only provide that fresh food, but also information about how it’s grown, why it’s sustainable, and how it’s a better option for us and our environment.
FF: What’s one thing you want your customers to know about you or your business?
GA: My goal in starting this business was not only to provide an affordable, fresh, local source of food for my community year-round but also to provide BETTER quality food. I want my customers to know who grew their food, where it came from, how it was produced, and to have confidence in the fact that it’s the best choice they could’ve made to feed their families.
FF: What does local food mean to you?
GA: To me, local food means you have an opportunity to get to know the farmer who grew your food. Unfortunately, I’ve come to find “local” food carries a variety of definitions, in some cases extending up to 300 miles outside of our county. People deserve to have better, healthier food options that are truly locally grown. In an area that is still very entrenched in traditional and seasonal soil-based farming, I now have the ability to be the local farmer that chefs, citizens, and business owners can rely on to keep their best interests at heart every day of the year.
FF: What reaction do you typically get from people when you tell them what you do for a living?
GA: I would have to categorize most people’s responses as a blend of shock, confusion, and intrigue. In many of the conversations I’ve had, people tend to think of hydroponic farming as a hobby and aren't aware of the potential for large-scale commercial production. I have a business degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and when folks hear I decided to become a farmer, it often throws them for a loop! Most of the time, the shock and confusion stage quickly gives way to genuine intrigue. I’ve found that the majority of people agree that there is both a need and appetite (no pun intended) for better local food options. The fact that modern technology is allowing for responsible, sustainable, clean, food production year round gets a lot of folks excited about the multitude of possibilities for the future of our local food scene.