A new organic produce delivery service called Brewers Organics recently opened on the near South Side. The business, owned by Brandon and Amanda Ferguson, was originally started in 2012 by Lucinda Clark who hired Amanda as an employee.
"Working with Lucinda, I could tell she may be getting ready to sell the business because she didn’t live here and had other priorities in her life," says Amanda. "So I asked if she was going to sell and if she would consider selling to Brandon and I."
At the end of 2013, Clark sold the business to the couple and it officially launched under their ownership on Jan. 1, 2014.
Brewers Organics delivers boxes of organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, coffee and other natural products of various sizes to families, individuals and businesses. Customers order what they want online – based on what’s available – and can receive a box weekly, bi-weekly or once in a while.
Customers can also sub out items for other available goods if they prefer. Although not all of the items in the box are locally in season – like kiwis and bananas – many of them are.
"We will have kiwi in the fall and cranberries in fall or early winter," says Amanda.
There are four boxes available: standard ($35), large ($57), fresh fruit only ($37) and veggie only ($37). Deliveries are on Wednesdays and orders are made online the weekend before.
During a two week trial, we received a large box two weeks in a row filled with kale, cabbage, lettuce, onions, blood oranges, bananas, carrots, potatoes, mangoes, mushrooms, radishes, apples, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi and more.
Everything we received was extremely fresh and dropped off early in the morning into a cooler on our porch.
Consequently, during those two weeks, we ate a lot of healthy meals including large, abundant salads, fresh fruit on our cereal and simple, filling concoctions built around potatoes and onions.
Our only complaint was that we sometimes wished we had ordered more of one particularly delicious item. The organic pink lady apples, for example, were particularly tasty and not everyone in my family got one.
We found that the true beauty of the business is the convenience of having organic fruits and veggies delivered to the door and then on-hand for cooking and meal prep.
"By delivering the produce directly to the home or office we take a lot of the work out for the customer," says Amanda.
The trick, however, is to be creative and flexible about the meals you make. Personally, I enjoy this kind of spontaneous planning – whatever’s in the box is what we’re going to eat for the week. But if you like to have tacos every Tuesday, this method might not work for you.
Every week, Brewers Organics’ customers are asked to leave out organic items (if they want to) to donate to a local homeless shelter.
"My entire career I have worked in the non-profit sector and giving back is a huge priority for me," says Amanda.
During the winter months, the Brewers Organics’ food comes from distributors like Outpost, Sendik’s and small, organic farms. During growing seasons, the majority of the food will come from local farms.
"We do like to keep a really wide variety of items so things like the bananas, mangos and kiwis will never be local, but for everything else, we try to keep with the smaller farms," says Amanda.
Brewers Organics’ warehouse is located on 1st and Becher Streets and the Fergusons, who grew up in Wauwatosa, now live in Bay View with their two young children.
Once the couple had kids, their desire to eat healthier food became even stronger.
"When we had children we really started looking at labels. Many are so confusing and there is so much junk in the food we eat and buy. We didn’t want to give that to our children," says Amanda. "Food doesn’t need to be so complicated and by buying organic it really cuts out all the preservatives and chemicals and makes it easier to make the healthier choice."
For some people, however, organic food is cost-prohibitive. Amanda understands this.
"I know this first hand," she says. "But, if you put a little work in, you can make it more affordable like looking for the sales, planning a menu based on more in-season items and freezing those items that are on sale to use later."
In the future, the business plans to bring more local items to the menu and even a "meat box" down the road.
"We want to really help out our friends and neighbors by offering to sell their amazing products," says Amanda. "Next week we are adding on popcorn kernels from a small family business in Racine. I am currently working with local farmers to provide a natural and organic meat box option."
More than anything, Amanda says she and Brandon hope to truly make a difference in the community.
"Organic food is important for so many reasons," she says. "The simple reason is the food is better for us, better for the environment and is vital for the future of agriculture."
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.