Photos by Thalia Clark / @remyslocal
The grocery service connects upstate and New York City residents with local farmers through weekly deliveries that are as fresh as it gets.
As many a Hudson Valleyite knows, farm-to-table life is the good life.
In a region that’s packed to the brim with farms large and small, the support for local produce and goods is less a movement and more a lifestyle. It touches everything from grocery runs to farmers’ markets and meals out at farm-forward restaurants to trips to local boutiques and makers for special finds and services.
Yet when COVID-19 tore through the Valley, farm-to-table businesses felt the pain as online retailers tempted shoppers with contactless, next-day shipping and seemingly endless inventories. After all, if it’s as easy as the click of a button to order an entire cart of groceries, why bother going to the market for local supplies?
It was precisely during this farm-to-table low point that Remy’s Local was born. Founded in mid-March and owned by a group of four friends, the Dutchess County-based food delivery service is the byproduct of the tumult produced by COVID-19. When the disease interrupted the owners’ lives unexpectedly, they turned their efforts to a new cause and community.
“It’s a response to the ripple effect that COVID had,” explains co-owner Thalia Clark.
In more ways than one, we might add. In fact, the chaos of COVID-19 in New York City is what initially prompted Clark and co-owner Jake Novick-Finder to leave Manhattan behind in favor of their hometowns in Rhinebeck. Although they did so independently, the childhood friends soon reconnected over their backgrounds in the hospitality industry. Over the course of the following weeks, Novick-Finder, the chef behind the former Gristmill restaurant in Brooklyn’s Park Slope, made an effort to connect with farmers in the area as he shopped for local produce. As he did so, he began asking family and friends if they wanted anything from the farms he visited. They did, and so his weekly shopping trips soon turned into an impromptu delivery service dedicated to local goods.
By the time his “service” reached 10 clients, he reached out to a friend he knew from his days at Otto in the Village with an idea to turn his endeavor into a real-deal delivery program. In no time at all, Remy’s Local was up and running in the Hudson Valley. Taken from Novick-Finder’s middle name, the delivery service cherry-picks produce and artisan goods from the region’s farms for online ordering by residents both in the Hudson Valley and New York City.
“We’re sourcing almost exclusively local,” Clark says. “We’re very much thinking everything we want to do is keep it local.”
Comparing it to a farmers’ market on wheels, she describes it as a boon for shoppers during an era when ease and health are top priorities. Remy’s operates as a contactless home delivery service from the moment orders are placed, so shoppers can feel rest assured knowing that their food will get to them safely and securely.
In terms of what’s available at Remy’s online store, it’s all about Hudson Valley ingredients. Because it’s not a subscription service, but a full market experience, the shop leaves it up to consumers to decide what to order. Each week, shoppers in Dutchess, Columbia, Greene, Putnam, Ulster, and Westchester Counties (along with New York City, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx) can browse the online store for the week’s selection of goods. Offerings change weekly and run the gamut from fruits and vegetables to a curated selection of dairy, drinks, herbs, and even seafood.
Unlike with big-name, on-demand delivery services, Remy’s Local fulfills orders once per week. All orders must be placed by 6 p.m. on Monday to allow farms and producers sufficient time to bring the food to Remy’s for packaging and delivery. With the exception of seafood, which Remy’s picks up on Thursday morning to ensure it’s as fresh as possible, all orders are packaged on Wednesday. Thursday is delivery day, during which time the team divides and conquers to fulfill orders across its coverage area.
Just as Remy’s once-a-week model sets it apart from other delivery services, so too does its farmers-first mentality.
“All of our partners are very interested in not necessarily offering too many items, but the best of any product category,” Clark reveals. “We partner with farms to find out what they might have surplus of and what they want to highlight each week. It fosters excitement for the consumer.”
Although Remy’s Local is a relatively recent addition to the Hudson Valley’s farm-to-table scene, it’s already received positive feedback from its community of farmers and shoppers. The bulk of the service’s clients are currently in New York City for now, a fact that’s largely due to the founders’ ties to the city, but they hope to shift that to spread coverage more evenly across their coverage region over the course of the next few months. After all, that’s where the farms are.
“We’re really working to connect the consumer with the farm through Remy’s,” Clark notes. “There’s something extremely wonderful about knowing where your food is coming from. It’s something that the better it can be, the bigger the story is behind what those things are, it creates a more interesting, exciting, and fulfilling experience.”
To her point, the driving force behind Remy’s is to support a community that’s been burned by the side effects of COVID-19. As devastation ripples through the food and farming industries, the company hopes to ease some of that pain by fostering interaction, even if through contactless means, and bringing happiness to New Yorkers through food.
Because of this, the Remy’s team refuses to sacrifice quality for expedition. Yes, they know they can only fulfill orders once a week. Yet for them, the relationships they’re building with farmers through their direct-to-consumer model is their reason for being, and therefore not something they’re willing to let go. Fortunately, their shoppers seem to agree. As the Remy’s Local clientele expands, the team considers ways to grow with it. If all goes well, the online shop will soon offer some sort of pre-structured CSA-style box with a rotating selection each week, with the potential for pickup locations in the future.
“We want to grow in the Hudson Valley,” Clark enthuses. “We’re giving people in the Hudson Valley the opportunity to support their communities without having to go to a million different places. Their happiness is very important to us.”