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Canada: Is Personalized, Next-Day Delivery the Future of Urban Farming?

Part of Lufa’s delivery fleet. (Lufa Farms)

Lufa Farms: A rooftop-farming venture in Montreal has found success with a model that’s part CSA, part Amazon Prime.

By Sarah Treleaven
City Lab
Feb 9, 2018


Whereas many urban farms sell to restaurants or grocery stores, or via farmer’s markets, Lufa has a key point of differentiation: its direct-to-consumer business model. On its website, shoppers can customize baskets of fresh food, which are then delivered to more than 300 pick-up points across the city, or to their homes for an added fee. It’s like community-supported agriculture (CSA) or a farm share merged with the personalization and convenience of Uber Eats or Amazon Prime. “We decided that we needed to give people the option to order what they wanted, and that we would figure out how to get those items to them,” Rathmell said.

In order to serve customers year-round, Lufa Farms pulls in other partners, including more conventional farmers. This helps it prevent seasonal defection (as can happen with some CSAs, once winter arrives and turnips become dispiritingly abundant). Shoppers start with a base basket—suggestions that are automatically included but can be removed. The website offers everything from locally baked bread and Florida citrus to blood sausage and pork pies, quinoa tabbouleh, and organic face wash.

Customers receive an email on Friday to notify them that the marketplace is open, and they have until Sunday night at midnight to lock in their order for a basket to be delivered the next day. From there, the Lufa Farms team gets to work—notifying suppliers, picking the appropriate produce, and channeling it all through a central distribution team that sends the baskets out late Monday morning to pickup points (such as cafes and yoga studios) via electric vehicles.

Read the complete article here.