Seeking funds for locally grown produce | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | January 5, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: January 3, 2018 at 10:11 am
Ian Dillinger came to the Feeding Innovations Pitch Night bearing gifts. He brought along samples of the types of food his Instinct Earth would provide customers.
Dillinger, who lives along the banks of the Edisto River, was seeking the seed money to expand his company’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business model.
CSA is traditionally a farmer-generated method of distributing locally grown produce, usually fruits and vegetables.
A customer basically enters into a contract with the farmer, paying a fee for a weekly or monthly supply of the produce grown on the farm.
Instinct Earth would put a different spin on CSA business model.
Dillinger’s packages start out with produce, then contain locally sourced food stuffs like meat and eggs, coffee, baked goods, honey, herbs, mushrooms, butter and cheeses. We are dealing with a very nice, broad offering.” His goal, he added, is to provide “more of a comprehensive CSA all year long.”
“All the food on this tray is from South Carolina,” Dillinger told the judges as they sampled, “from within an hour and a half from here.”
Dillinger said that he currently has verbal or written agreements with 15 farmers and artisans and sells wholesale to restaurants.
The seed money provided by Feeding Innovation would have enabled him to put together a mobile market vehicle to distribute his product.
He envisions a company that would have restaurants account for 20 percent of his business and CSAs the remaining 80 percent.
He explained that partnering with local farmers and artisans would “allow us to bolster the economics of not just what I can do, but also what I can sell from all 15 of these other farms and artisans.”
“The market wants fresh, convenient, local. They want someone they can trust, they want something that is going to be delicious and they want something a little bit of value,” Dillinger explained to the judges.
Sourcing the products locally, would provide the value. “A third of our food cost is wrapped up in the transportation of food,” he offered.
Instinct Earth, he suggested, would “empower communities through giving them access to healthy food than is sustainablely grown at the closest area source.”
Dillinger, a former teacher at Summerville High School for five years, said in preparation for this project obtained several Clemson certifications and worked for several farmers.
“I’ve constantly got my hands in the dirt or driving a truck- trying to prove that I know what I am doing, that I know where my market is,” Dillinger said.
To be successful, Dillinger offered, Instinct Earth needs to have “a consistent image.” That customers say, “I know what this person is going to bring me.”