Story and Photography by Nikki Gardner
On a sweltering Friday in July, I drive out to Breezy Acres Farm in Granby, home to Valley Green Feast (VGF), a year-round food delivery service. I spend the afternoon with Rebekah Hanlon and Bekki Szlosek, two of three worker-owners behind the cooperative. Before founder Jessica Harwood left the then-solo operation in 2010 after running it for three years, she turned it into to a cooperative model to ensure her initial vision lived on.
Harwood established VGF as a way to support area farmers and consumers, still the foundation of the co-op today. Now run by three women—Rebekah, Bekki, and Ally Sterling—VGF continues to develop partnerships with farmers and producers to serve a customer base concentrated along the I-91 corridor.
It’s delivery day and they’ve set up shop outside the barn, where a slight breeze comes up from the farm field below. The veggie ladies, as they are also known, pack their insulated grocery bags with this week’s orders including green peppers, purple carrots, heirloom tomatoes, romaine lettuce, raspberries, red onions, and basil, along with optional add-ons like coffee, pickles, maple syrup, and chocolate.
Once the orders are filled, the bags are packed into cars to be driven to customers’ front doors and a designated dropoff location in Northampton, where co-op partner Pedal People picks up orders and completes the delivery by bicycle. In addition to their regularly scheduled deliveries to customers, a house on the route will be chosen at random to receive a basket of the week’s produce with a note that reads, “You’ve received a random act of veggies from Valley Green Feast.”