Local Flavor satisfies farm-fresh appetites

The Local Flavor

Mark Reinhardt • Laurie Smith
14828 Lee Highway
Amissville, VA 20106
E-mail: info@farmbuyersclub.com
540-937-7977 – office
540-522-0900 – cell (day of deliveries only)

By Anita L. Sherman
Special to the Rappahannock News
Mark Reinhardt and Laurie Smith have taken fresh to a whole new level.

It’s been nearly two years since the co-founders started their business, The Local Flavor, on the belief that knowing what you eat and where it’s grown has value. They’ve literally been trucking local produce grown predominantly in Rappahannock County to places beyond — like Herndon, Alexandria and Fredericksburg.

There is a distinct advantage if you do live locally as you can stop by their warehouse on Viewtown Road in Amissville (next to American Road Motorcycles on Route 211) to pick up or drop off goods.

“We’re not set up as a retail store,” said Smith, “it’s more of a storehouse for local clients.”

The vast majority of faithful consumers can get grass-fed beef, pork or lamb at one of The Local Flavor’s designated drop-off destinations.

Photo by Adam Goings

Reinhardt and Smith are into connecting. Their direct-to-consumer buying club hooks up customers with farm fresh products. Eating healthier, supporting local farmers and contributing to the success of sustainable agriculture are all part of what Reinhardt and Smith have to offer. So far, it would seem to be an attractive menu.

“We’re trying to make it as convenient as we can,” said Smith, who says their young business is still a work in progress. There are no membership fees. By visiting their Web site, you can order online what you would like and choose a convenient site for pick up. When delivered, you can pay by cash, check or credit card. It is also possible to prepay online which, according to Smith, may evolve into the final model.

“It’s easier … avoids a lot of juggling with cash … we may just go to that completely,” added Smith, “but for now we offer the three payment methods.”

Local farms and producers in Rappahannock County are the major suppliers but neighboring Culpeper and Fauquier counties are also well represented on their list of sources.

“We want to keep the product within a 50-mile radius of where it is going to be delivered,” said Smith noting, “there is such a bounty, that it’s not hard to do.”

Always on the look out for new locally grown products, The Local Flavor continues to expand its delivery boundaries as well.

Several new drops will be added this month, according to Smith. “Alexandria is such a large area … another stop will be added there … and Falls Church,” said Smith. “It’s important — particularly for those who live in apartments — to have drops near Metro stations.”
Another new location will be in Dulles. Smith is excited on several levels about this new drop.

“Curry’s Auto Service — they are in Gainesville but opening a new place in Dulles,” said Smith. “They are a really neat company with a focus on women. They offer free seminars for women. They try to take the fear factor out of things like changing oil or other maintenance. They stand behind their work.”

With an e-mail customer base in the thousands, grass-fed meats are a big seller.

“Food, Inc.,” a 2008 documentary by award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner, takes an unflattering look at corporate farming.

“The more people who watch films like “Food, Inc.,” . . . it’s scary with the hormones. I’m so happy that we can offer free-range, organically certified chickens,” said Smith.

While grass-fed beef, pork and lamb command top spots on consumer’s grocery lists, The Local Flavor offers a range of healthy products including lines of pet foods and health care products.

“We’ve recently started working with a company in Bealeton called Simply Pure,” said Smith. “She started this for her kids’ health. They had eczema. Another one is Herban Avenue. They have a good poison ivy spray as well as anti-mosquito. Also hand sanitizers,” added Smith.

The path to creating The Local Flavor started with Reinhardt and Smith and their joint search for a healthy lifestyle.

“Ever since 1995, we’ve really paid attention to what we eat,” said Smith noting that both she and Reinhardt have blood sugar issues. “It’s been a real passion of mine to find what works. So many turn to different types of drugs for help. I’m convinced that 90 percent of problems can be solved with a change in diet,” stressed Smith.

“We’d find ourselves running around to these different farms and then we thought ‘why can’t we take this to the people who can’t get it. Why not provide the missing link between the farmers and the consumers.'”

Whether it’s local raw honey, chutneys and jams, free-range eggs or handmade salsas and mustards, The Local Flavor is only a click away from bringing the farm to your table.

Business has improved to the point where Reinhardt and Smith have taken on an assistant. Recently Trish Noll has joined the staff. “She helps us package the orders and make deliveries and keep things organized,” said Smith, who hopes to eventually add more drivers as their network grows.

The Local Flavor represents an emerging trend of small businesses dedicated to thinking globally by acting locally.

“We’re all different. We’re all in this together,” said Smith of some like-minded operations like The Farmer’s Girls who operate out of Vint Hill in Warrenton. “I view them more as colleagues than competitors. Our competitors are more like Wal-Mart. You really have to look at the true cost of food.”

“The market is huge and only growing,” said Smith, “there’s definitely room for all of us.”

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