In short, how does the drop point system work?
See this page: How Drop Points Work.
How did you ever invent such an interesting, efficient food delivery system?
Well...the truth of the matter is that I didn't. Joel Salatin of Polyface farm in VA did. Everything from the shuttle buses repurposed as trucks to the reusable coolers was his idea. So if you want to thank or praise someone... Joel's the man. :)
So what's the point of repurposed shuttle buses?
The point is that we can keep shipping costs low and our carbon impact very small. We purchase our average bus at 10 years old with 150,000 miles for about $6500. We run them for another 150,000 miles and still are able to sell them for about $3000. How is that for low cost delivery service and for keeping our carbon footprint small?
How long has your family been delivering to drop points?
I learned the system from Joel Salatin in Dec 2008 and we started our first drop at Yardley PA in March 2009. We've refined the system quite a bit since then. Every year gets smoother and easier for us and our customers. We are all learning!
So...Should I bring a cooler to the drop point?
Yes, please bring a cooler. (Unless, of course you live 5-10 minutes from the drop point and will be going straight home...then you'll have to decide.) The cooler that we use to deliver your food needs to go back with our truck.
Should I bring my own ice?
Actually there is no need to bring ice. We pack your order in ice at the farm so you simply transfer the ice from our cooler to yours. If you need extra ice, there is usually plenty available at the drop point because some families who live near the drop don't need the ice that was with their order.
Is it ok if I come early to the drop point?
Absolutely! At least 5-10 minutes early is fine. That is so much better than arriving late. Folks who are regularly late we put on a 'Do Not Smile At' list. So if you'd really like your farmer to smile and be happy...be on time or early. :) (Seriously we don't have such a thing as a "Do Not Smile At" list. I'm just kidding...but please don't tempt me to make one!)
How long does your truck wait at the drop point?
Well, that's kind of a loaded question because it usually implies that you're thinking to arrive after the appointment time! Not good! :) Just remember this: The posted meeting time is an appointment. And it's always best to arrive early for an appointment. We do. Our truck is almost always at the meeting spot 15-20 minutes early. We appreciate if you also are either early or on time. That way if you hit traffic or another snag you'll still be only 5-10 minutes late. If you see you are going to be later than that, please call the farmer doing the delivery. His name and cell number is always on the final email we send you (the one with your invoice attached). I will say this. If you arrive 15 minutes late and haven't called the driver, most likely he'll still be there, but we can't promise that, so you do risk missing your food.
Why can't I pay with cash?
That is a great question. One we've thought long and hard about. In fact, it's important enough we devoted a separate web page to explain it. Read here.
So, if I miss a pick-up and had already paid for the food... then what?
Rest assured, we'll fully credit your account with the amount that you paid. One Note: I know the website says there is a $10 restocking fee for missed orders, but in reality, our protocol for this type of situation is forgiveness and understanding. So no worries...we won't add any fees.
Of course, if the same person were to miss too often...we would have to initiate the restocking fee but that's only in extreme cases. We've probably only had to use that motivation two or three times in the past seven years. And that's exactly the way we'd like to keep it. :)
May I buy EXTRA food from the driver at the drop point? You know... like, if I forgot to order or decide I need more than what I ordered.
I really wish you could, but honestly, for a variety of reasons (some of them zoning and township regs) the answer needs to be a firm no. The important point to remember is that the drop point is not a point of sale. It is simply a delivery and pick-up spot for food previously ordered, invoiced and shipped direct from our farm.
But... I'm sure I saw the driver get extra milk for another customer!
You probably did! LOL... I'm sorry this is so confusing! We do send a small amount of milk and eggs on each truck as replacements. If eggs get broken during shipment or we accidentally pack 4 gallons of milk when someone ordered and paid for 5 or maybe we even missed packing an order...obviously we need to replace the eggs and fix our mistake. But other than these replacements, we do not carry extra food on the truck. We bring none to sell to walk up customers without an order. Please don't even ask the driver if he'll make an exception. It just makes a difficult situation because we are kind-hearted farmers and it really, really does make us feel bad to say no. :)
A lot of farms that ship food have the Shipping & Handling built into the price of their foods. That is why they appear to offer "free shipping." Their shipping is not really free, it's just hidden. We do not price our foods this way. For example: as I write this, our ground beef (85% lean) is $6.50/lb. Most other farms that deliver organic, grass-fed, soy-free, GMO free ground beef is priced between $8.00 - $9.00/lb. Even with S&H added, Family Cow ground beef is less than $7.50/lb.
If you compare and are fair I don't think you will find any food distributor in the world who will do same-day-delivery of a refrigerated, perishable, 50lb package of food for $4.50. When you order 4 gallons of Family Cow raw milk, that is exactly what we do! Yes...even with a 3 hour drive one way! It's only possible because of The Family Cow Tribe's support and ordering cooperation!
This is a very neat feature we designed into our delivery system to reward wise buying. And it's another reason we don't include the S&H into the price of the food. Here is how it works. Our shipping and handling is capped at $22.50 per order. No matter how much you order, your S&H will never be more than that. When folks are stocking chest freezers with meat for the winter, sometimes their orders weigh 200-300lbs. Even then the delivery is never over $22.50. Do the math! It pays to have a chest freezer! And it also pays to buy together with some friends. We do not mind. We do not see it as gaming the system. We see it as you being wise and working together for the strength of your friends group and we love it. As long as the order comes in as one, can be invoiced and delivered and paid as one order, we don't care how many of you went together to make the order.
As you can imagine, to coordinate weekly delivery to hundreds of customers at over 50 drop points, our farm team needs to be extremely organized and punctual about every step of order fulfillment. If an order is placed after the deadline and we have to rush it through... it requires us to go back and redo a bunch of steps for that drop point that had already been finished. This significantly raises our cost of order fulfillment (not to mention our frustration level). To get a feel for what all is involved with packing your orders, check this out.
If the rush fee is bothersome...there is an easy fix. Order on time! Just set a reminder in your phone or computer to send an alert every week the day before the order deadline.
Another way is as simple as staying tuned to your email. We always send deadline reminders at least 10-12 hours before the deadline. Remember, it's perfectly fine to order before the deadline day. We don't mind early orders! :)
The short answer is that we watch the weather and road conditions closely and we cancel the delivery or move it to another day if the conditions are too bad.
IMPORTANT: We always communicate this type of announcement via email, so especially if the weather is questionable, check your email often in the day leading up to delivery (and the morning of delivery). If you do not, you may miss a very important notice.
Here is one thing to keep in mind. We rarely cancel based on weather predictions. Rather, we wait until the last 12 hours or less to make a judgment based on actual conditions. Weather predictions are too often subject to substantial media hype. We appreciate your trust in our judgment. We have been doing this for over six years.
But, if at any time, when it comes right down to the time and you simply don't feel comfortable being on the road, yet we have not canceled...no worries. Your driving decision is totally up to you. Just call our driver and tell him that you cannot make the food pick-up. His cell phone number is always on the confirmation email (the one you get the day before delivery that includes the PDF invoice).
If you're not sure whether you will be able to make it or not, please do not cancel your order. If there's a chance you could come, we'd rather take your order along just in case. If you can't pick up due to road conditions, we will totally understand. These things come with winter! There will be no restocking fees.
Above all... we just want everyone to be safe!