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Hudson Valley Mercantile June 2014

Page 24

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.


Hudson Valley Mercantile June 2014