Farmer Spotlight: Blue Thumb Farms
It’s not every day that you meet two scientists with a passion for supporting their local community through sustainable farming, so when Mary Cove and Allison Culbreth of Blue Thumb Farms gave us a call earlier this year - we instantly knew they were our kind of people.
Friends since graduate school at North Carolina State University, Mary and Allison saw a need for a local salad mix option that was directly accessible in their community. “For us, providing local produce means providing a product that is fresher, safer, and more sustainable. We decided to put our Master’s degrees to the test and open Blue Thumb Farms to fill that void. We both quit our jobs and the rest is history!”
Fast forward to today, Blue Thumb is a thriving hydroponic farm in Zebulon, N.C., that includes over 12,000 square feet of grow space and a 2,500-square-foot processing and storage facility. “We grow our baby greens in a state of the art greenhouse that allows us to provide a consistent product year-round. All of our plants get their nutrition from the water in our ponds. Our farming practices allow us to focus on our pesticide-free, non-GMO methods with emphasis on minimizing our footprint in land, water and energy conservation.”
By using their problem solving mentalities and the scientific method to improve their growing practices, Blue Thumb Farms have not only developed a hunger to learn and perfect their craft, but are also always looking to improve their knowledge, efficiency, and yields in production. This includes partnering with Hungry Harvest to sell their surplus crops. “Our crops grow in 3-4 weeks, so we have to predict how many sales we will have up to a month in advance. Occasionally weather, holidays, changes in orders or logistics can affect our order numbers leaving us with some extra produce. As sustainability and conservation are some of our main pillars for our business, we hate the idea of our product going to waste.” For example, after a string of exceptionally sunny days this past summer, a bumper crop grew. Blue Thumb was able to sell this unexpected excess produce to Hungry Harvest instead of having it go to waste. “They provide an outlet for our greens that have nowhere else to go!”
Rescuing their edible greens once or twice a month, isn’t the only way this partnership has helped make Blue Thumb more sustainable, according to Mary and Allison. Working with Hungry Harvest has also helped reduce packaging waste. “Instead of shipping our product in cardboard boxes which get thrown out or recycled, Hungry Harvest allows us to deliver in reusable plastic bins which we can pick up at a later time. That’s a lot of saved cardboard!”
Partnerships like these are just one of the many that make up the fabric of the Hungry Harvest Family. When you buy one of our produce boxes, you are not just helping us on our mission to fight food waste and hunger, but you are also helping to support our work with other other small, local businesses, like Blue Thumb Farms. Together, we are working to make a change for the better that goes far beyond the food on our kitchen tables.