Tue, 9 September 2014
Introducing Levi Lawrence
Levi Lawrence is a trained chef that has cooked in kitchens throughout the world. As a chef, he knows the importance of fresh, local ingredients. However, for the longest time if you wanted fresh, local ingredients you had to attend your weekly farmers’ market. If you weren’t awake early on a weekend morning, you would have to buy your produce from California via your local grocery store. Having worked in Europe, Levi knew there was a better way to offer local food. So, he went back to school, received a business degree, borrowed $3,000 and made a website called, Real Food Connections, to connect people with their local farmers seven days a week.
Soon enough he was building a network of food producers in New Brunswick. Since then, Levi has expanded three times in four years. Two years ago, he moved into his very own brick and mortar grocery store in Fredericton, New Brunswick, which also wholesales across the province, caters, and offers a vegetable box program in both Fredericton and Moncton, New Brunswick. Levi still has bigger plans for the future. He wants to grow his network of local food producers and make the big grocery chains buy from him.
Grocery stores, until recently, had very little in terms of locally sourced product. There was a good reason for this, it is more difficult to source and deal with a number of small distributers and it was far easier for them to deal with a large distributor. This made sense from their point of view, but it also helped to kill the local food supply. There was a generation of local producers who could only make money selling directly to consumers at farmers’ markets, online, or at their locations. This worked okay for small farmers, but didn’t look for much growth in business. Also, the average age for producers was 65 and the number of producers was dropping. Young food producers or immigrants found it difficult to break into the market. The new local food movement has changed this; people are looking to get into the market, and Levi can help.
In this episode
We hear of Levi’s new 10-year plan. He tells us how he isn’t involved just to save the planet; he is out to make profit. We hear how the supply chain in Europe differs from North America. Levi also tells us why the Atlantic Provinces are the perfect place to set up as a food producer. Greg is inspired by Levi’s approach of conscious capitalism and Dave appreciates Levi’s ability to educate.