Hudson Valley Mercantile June 2014
organically IT HAPPENED
How Donna Williams moved from the world of ﬁnance to the farm ﬁelds of the Hudson Valley
story and photos by Ashley Drewes
Field Goods is a subscription produce delivery service launched in Athens, NY in 2011, by Donna Williams. Field Goods works with more than 60 small farms to deliver its signature neon bags of food stuﬀs to more than 1,800 customers at 300-plus locations in the Hudson Valley. The company serves customers as far north as Saratoga, and as far south as Yonkers. Each customer receives a bag of fruit and vegetables every week, at the cost of just $20-$30. Subscribers can, for a little bit more, also have other local products delivered, like bread, yogurt, cheese, maple syrup, cooking oils and even pasta. Williams is able to individually pricecompare each item in the Field Goods bag to what competing national grocers charge for similar products. She estimates that most weeks, the value of each bag is higher than what her customers are actually charged. “We wanted to make it a really good value,” says Williams. And that’s just the retail price for what’s inside the bag – most customers are not charged additionally for delivery. Only Westchester residents are charged a nominal $1.50 per bag. Each bag comes with an inventory sheet, with directions (“You must cook the foraged items!”), the source of each item, and the means by which it was cultivated (Integrated Pest Management, Certiﬁed Organic, farmed with organic methods but not certiﬁed, non-GMO, foraged or conventionally farmed). Subscribers also receive an e-newsletter every week with recipes, nutrition news and company news. While many startup businesses attribute success to a combination of ingenuity, hard work and good luck, Williams might actually be able
above: Donna Williams; opposite page, a look inside a Field Goods bag of produce.
Each customer receives a bag of fruit and vegetables every week, at the cost of just $20-$30. Subscribers can, for a little bit more, also have other local products delivered, like bread, yogurt, cheese, maple syrup, cooking oils and even pasta. to say that it was also a bit of bad luck that helped lead to the genesis, and explosive growth, of Field Goods, LLC. From ﬁnance, to publishing, to the natural food industry You could deﬁnitely say that Donna Williams has taken the road less-traveled. She began her career as an investment banker in the ‘80s. “I just hated it,” admits Williams, who decided to go to business school to, ironically, get out of banking. “It was the exact opposite of what everyone else does,” she says. In 1994, Williams took her MBA from Columbia and joined the Times Mirror where she was promoted to Vice President of Business Development for Mosby, the medical publishing company. After leaving the Times Mirror, she worked with former Mosby senior executives to start 3V (now StayWell), one of the country’s largest consumer health information and services companies.