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Karen and Kedhar Thiruvalam.

Organic products delivered from farms to homes


When Karen and Kedhar Thiruvalam, of Middletown, were visiting friends in Las Vegas in 2011, they awoke to a cooler that had been left on the porch, filled with fresh milk and fresh yogurt from a local dairy farm. “We were thinking we’d like to do something like that here,” Karen said, “so on the long car ride to the Grand Canyon, we started brainstorming. ‘Let’s do farm produce, too, not just dairy,’ we said. And we just kept going from there. We opened our business, Sow Fresh Organics, in July 2012.”

After customers place their orders on the online shop, the Thiruvalams contact local farmers, in regards to what and how much of various products will be needed, They also find out what is available for the following week. Their staff consists of an office manager, two packers (one is a volunteer), and a driver who picks up the produce from the farms and helps with the deliveries. Deliveries (which are placed on the customers’ doorsteps) are on Thursdays between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., and between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. The couple makes the deliveries before and after their full-time jobs.

There’s a plethora of items to be purchased from Sow Fresh Organics, not just produce. The produce comes from farms in Connecticut, one in Massachusetts (which does hydroponic farming, a method that grows plants in water, using mineral nutrient solutions), and one in Rhode Island. All of them are organic. Other items are bought from local artisans.

In the winter they get vegetables from farms that do greenhouse growing (which favors the hardier greens), root vegetables that were harvested in the late fall and are stored in the winter, and lettuce and herbs from the hydroponic farm in Massachusetts.

“For the vegetables, every farm we work with is within 100 miles of Middletown,” Karen said. “In the winter the fruits we get are brought in from an organic distributor in New Hampshire, which works with farms across the country. We use them year-round, supplementing with local fruit when we can.

“We’re always looking to make partnerships with new, local farms. Right now in Durham we work with Deerfield Farm, Tuttle Ridge Farms, and Naples Farm.”

And yes, this has been a tough winter for the couple. Frigid temperatures, snowstorms to contend with, along with black ice.

“We worry about the produce in the frigid temperatures,” Karen said. “If it gets too cold and the vegetables are out for more than 20 to 30 minutes, they’ll freeze. It’s like they get frostbite. If it’s super cold, we adjust our deliveries to the times we know our customers are up.” In extreme cold they bump some of the morning deliveries to the evening because too many morning deliveries mean an earlier start, and maybe boxes left much sooner than the customer’s waking time.

The problems are the reverse in the summer. The heat is a concern, so some of the evening deliveries may get moved to the morning, or the evening deliveries may be later than the usual time. Whether it’s cold or hot, the goal is to not have the boxes sitting out for too long.

Sow Fresh Organics currently has between 30 and 40 customers, one of whom is Christal Banville, of Ellington. “I’m a customer simply because I believe in their cause and because I love great food,” she said. “Not only does organic taste better, but it also serves to protect the world from harsh chemicals and pesticides. I truly believe that by purchasing organic foods, I am doing my part to ensure a healthier planet. I love to live in a place surrounded by lush green fields and small farms, and I’ll do anything I can to keep it that way.”

Karen would agree. “It’s important to get away from eating processed foods and give people access to local farmers,” she said. “They’re incredibly hard-working and passionate about what they do, and they deserve everyone’s support.

“Eating locally reduces our carbon footprint, which is what we’re trying to do. A lot of people don’t have the time to go to farmers’ markets, so we bring the farmers’ markets to them. And instead of maybe 30 or 40 cars on the road, going to those markets, it’s just us-two or three cars-on the road. Eating locally also means not as much fuel is used for trucks coming from a long distance.

“I love the aspect of learning about farming and getting to know the farmers, of making new connections with the people in the community. And starting a local business is exciting and an adventure. We learn something new almost every day.”

For a full list of products and to see if Sow Fresh Organics delivers in your town, go to www.sowfreshorganics.com.



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