Our mission is to build a more resilient food system by making locally grown food easy to cook and eat. Our meal kits embody low-impact eating: they are vegan, laden with vegetables grown 100% by small to medium scale farmers in Eastern Mass and New England, and are delivered by bike in minimal packaging.
We’re not into generating extra waste: the vegetables we harvest for the meal kits come in bins that are returned to our farmers to use again. We bring you our meal kits with that same ethos, the paper is compostable, we take back the twine to reuse, the sauce cups are compostable (PLA from corn) and we keep the plastic as minimal as possible.
About Laurel Valchuis
I started al FreshCo in Ireland, where I was working on a magical small scale organic farm overlooking the sea. The farmer was having a great growing season, and found herself with too many vegetables to off-load onto her CSA customers. Others were reluctant to take the vast abundance of beautiful vegetables: “How on earth do I consume 2 pounds of kohl rabi?” al FreshCo Meal Kits were born! I channeled inspiration from travels in Africa and Southeast Asia and started coming up with creative ways to cook excess produce from the farm, working to make it as quick and painless as possible to eat your kohl rabi, et al. Now there was no excuse not to eat all those beautifully, locally grown vegetables!
Shortly thereafter I moved back home to Boston, found some awesome farmers in the area who had lots of extra produce to market, and settled into kitchen space at Crop Circle Kitchen in Jamaica Plain. In 2014 I started bringing meal kits to the JP winter farmers’ market selling them off my shiny orange tricycle. I pedaled the trike to markets across town, and even hawked meal kits at Park St. station, spreading the ease of cooking locally grown vegetables across the fine city of Boston.
My passion for supporting small to medium scale, diversified, organic farmers stems from working in global agribusiness, and seeing the harmful effects monoculture and dissociation from the land can have on the ecosystem, farmer, and consumer health. For a short period of time I lived and worked in Zambia with small scale soya farmers whose only market was an animal feed plant that had a monopoly on the country’s animal protein supply. Diversity in cropping, economic independence, and connection with the land and customers need to flourish for a healthy food system to take hold. I went on to study for a masters in Community Development and Applied Economics at UVM, conducting my research in access to local produce* while working on a farm in Burlington,VT.
al FreshCo is an aggregation of my experience on farms and observing how different communities around the world exist around food, and the impact food has globally in our day-to-day living. It is a privilege to hang out with awesome farmers from whom we source, grow and eat amazing food, and biking around Boston is just added benefit!
I continue to run al FreshCo and work on a nearby organic vegetable farm in the suburbs of Boston, where much of the al FreshCo vegetables are sourced. Building community around food and building a resilient food system is what continues to drive me, and I hope you join us on our mission to eat more locally grown produce for your own health, for the continued economic success of our farmers, and for the health of the land they cultivate.
*Check out my enthralling paper on food access: Stacking Beliefs and Participation in Alternative Food Systems, published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Science.