The original boxes contained whatever produce Barry could convince suppliers to send him, from both down the road and out of state, depending on the season. But as customer requests starting rolling in, Barry's network of suppliers grew to include other small operations (such as Taza Chocolate in Somerville, for one). Now his warehouse's shelves are stacked with cheese and maple syrup from Vermont, granola from Maine, salsa from western Massachusetts — all certified organic.
Barry was bringing the farmer's market to your front stoop years before the term "locavore" even entered common foodie parlance. But ask him if he's had a hand in the city's CSA proliferation, and Barry will tell you that he tends to see Boston Organics as part of a larger fabric of food transparency, rather than a ringleader.
"I think we have definitely [contributed] to locavore awareness," he says. "Letting customers know where their fruits and vegetables are coming from has been an important component to the service from the beginning."
This outreach has grown to include a crucial education element, as well. In order to prevent their customers from watching a wonky-looking turnip rot on the counter, the Boston Organics crew offer magnets printed with storage tips and tuck recipe sheets into each box. Plus, they recently teamed up with the Boston Center for Adult Education to put on cooking classes; the next installment of "Cooking Outside the Box" is slated for July 21.
What's next? Barry — a member of the advisory board of the Sustainable Business Network of Boston — is constantly looking to increase his company's environmentally friendly practices. He met with an MIT spinoff group early this year, looking to transform his delivery vans into hybrids, and his face lights up when he talks about the cargo bikes he eventually wants to send out.
But you don't have to look too far in the future to experience veggie utopia. The summer is when Boston Organics shines. Their "send what you've got, when you've got it" supply chain allows farmers to ship in-season crops straight to Barry's warehouse, and Boston Organics' summer haul is a nice change of pace from the black radishes and sunchokes that filled the boxes all last winter — think dandelion greens, shelling peas, plucky yellow nectarines, and fresh kale. Which means that, when it comes to shoveling fresh produce into your dome, there's no time like the present.
Cassandra Landry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.