In April, we posted about the Vermont Sail Freight Project, a plan to build a sailing cargo barge to carry non-perishable produce down Lake Champlain to the Hudson River and onward to markets along the river and in New York City. They were attempting to raise $15,000 to complete the barge, which was already under construction. They succeeded in raising $16,754 and now, only six months later, the sailing barge Ceres is about to set off on her first 330-mile journey downriver. She will be carrying produce from 30 different farms and will be making stops at historic river towns along the way, selling goods at “pop-up” markets along the riverside. She is expected to arrive in New York harbor toward the end of the month and will be calling at the Navy Yard and South Street Seaport. Click here to learn more.
“We’re trying to rebuild a whole sector that’s been decimated and open new opportunities for young farmers and rebuild a whole aspect of the culture that’s very nearly been lost entirely,” said project director Erik Andrus, who also farms rice and grass-fed beef at Boundbrook Farm in Ferrisburgh, Vt.
The cargo in the Ceres will be sold at existing farmers markets along the route and under a pop-up tent the Vermont crew will set up when they need to go solo. They will also do direct-to-door delivery at ports, where individuals and businesses have placed orders. Trucks will be used for big orders. But individuals in New York will see their orders arrive via Revolution Rickshaws, a city pedicab and freight company.
“We’re flexible about our approach. The delivery of preordered goods can happen in any location,” Andrus said. “The ordering is a bit like Amazon.com, and the boat is the delivery mechanism like UPS.”
Northeast shoppers can order though Good Eggs, a San Francisco-based online marketplace that specializes in home delivery of farmers market-type goods. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Good Eggs has 150 local farmers and food preparers offering goods for sale, said Cathy Bishop, spokeswoman for Good Eggs.
The Vermont Sail offerings through Good Eggs include 100 items, including maple syrup, honey, apples, heirloom beans, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, sauerkraut, tea, sea salt and soap.