Field to Fork Tehama
By Melissa Mendonca
By Melissa Mendonca
Photos by Alexis LeClair
“We like to describe ourselves as the farmers market to your door,” says Rachelle Gould of Field to Fork Tehama, a subscription service for locally sourced produce and meats. The business she and husband Jake started almost two years ago is a twist on the traditional Community Supported Agriculture service model.
“We’ve started as a point person for a whole lot of farms,” she says. “We get our produce and meats from them. We do the marketing. The farms we work with can focus more on farming.” The Goulds fill wooden crates for their customers with whatever is freshest at the moment and deliver them from Corning to Redding on a weekly basis. Customers can add staples such as eggs, honey, flour and cheeses. Boxes can accommodate singles or families and subscriptions are flexible for those who travel. Recipes are included.
“There’s a lot that’s produced here,” says Gould. “Before we started I didn’t know you could get really local flour here, and all different kinds. There are black heirloom chickpeas only grown in Capay.” The Goulds have committed to sourcing food within a 75-mile radius, but so far have been able to stay within 50. “We also have items you might not necessarily get in stores – colored cauliflower, fresh fennel.”
Field to Fork Tehama works with about 25 farms and ranches. “Almost all of our farms are certified or practicing organic. We won’t guarantee that every box is organic, but most likely it will be.” Some of the farms have their own CSA programs, and the Goulds are happy to promote those, as well. “A big thing for us, too, is that we believe in collaboration over competition. Everybody eats so we don’t have to compete for customers.
“My original idea was a small little business, but we’ve found so much support for it that it’s grown,” she adds. “When we explained to people that everything we have is local, people wanted to support their community.”
“I’m one of those people who when I go to bed my head starts to fill up with ideas,” says Gould. “Most of them go away but this one didn’t.” Not long after the idea implanted, she heard a presentation on economies of small farms at a Red Bluff Sunrise Rotary meeting, where she currently serves as president. She called the speaker to run her business idea by him. “His research supported it,” she says. “USDA had research. It just seemed to all line up.”
Gould says daughters Maggie, 7, and Claire, 4, were a big inspiration for the business. “I really wanted to do something where they grow with it, their own little legacy,” says Gould. “Our parents owned their own businesses. Jake is a third-generation cowboy. For both my husband and I, a lot of our memories revolve around spending time with our dads.” The family lives and works two miles west of Red Bluff. “We’re not too far from town, but it still feels like we’re in a bubble.”
The business is growing as fast as Maggie and Claire, with a new partnership recently announced with Shasta Community Health Center to provide weekly boxes and recipes tailored to patients in their diabetes program. They also work with restaurants to source fresh products. “Instead of them individually contacting farms, they call us and see what’s available. We also deliver,” says Gould.
Field to Fork Tehama is also working with the Farm to Food Pantry in Shasta County, where surplus food goes out to food banks. “It’s a way for farms to have less waste and still get paid for it. And then people have a way to get fresh food that isn’t always available to them,” says Gould.
Rachelle and Jake are busy putting in a greenhouse to grow produce not currently available during winter months such as tomatoes and cucumbers. “We discovered last year there’s no place to get local tomatoes in winter. We have the means to fill that hole,” she adds. “In general, the farms here do such an amazing job that we don’t feel the need to grow what they grow in the same season because they have it down to a science.”
The late-night idea of Gould’s has turned out to be a boon for many, and a joy for her. “The entire economic circle is here,” she says. “It’s supporting local families that we know. When people choose to be our customers they’re not just supporting our small business, they’re supporting lots of different farms and ranches. And the food is just absolutely delicious.” •
Field to Fork Tehama