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Harvesting Opportunities for Local Tastes

By Alexandra Martin with Travis Rosenbluth and Nate Heinold

Photos by Hillary Ehlen

Featured photo: Nate Heinold, Travis Rosenbluth and Juniper the Goldendoodle on Doubting Thomas Farms.

Have you met Harvestable? Nate Heinold and Travis Rosenbluth created the app Harvestable as a way to connect food producers to restaurants in order to create a blooming, local food network. We spoke with Heinold and Rosenbluth about Harvestable, including what it is, how it came about and why it is important to our community.

The Men

Travis Rosenbluth is a professional chef and entrepreneur from Philadelphia. He graduated from Penn State before enrolling at the International Culinary Center in New York City. Upon graduation, Travis cooked in kitchens such as High St. on Market and the coveted Fork restaurant in Philadelphia.

Later, Travis invested money left to him by his grandfather to start his own business in Fargo: TwoBear Food. In 2017, he built his first subsidiary project of Twobear Food: Phargo Food. This food truck sold original Philadelphia cheesesteaks in the downtown Fargo area. He used this as a way to serve the Fargo community a piece of Philadelphia culture via the cheesesteak, sold in the classic “Whiz wit’/Whiz witout” fashion. However, the following season, he sold the truck as a means to invest in Harvestable.

Travis has also been active in the Fargo food community, opening up Wild Terra‘s kitchen, helping with the Cass Clay Food Commission and is currently the project manager for the North Dakota Culinary Institute. All in all, Travis is happiest when there is good food on the table and good people around it.

Nate Heinold is a technology and management professional, originally from Milwaukee. He’s been involved in restaurant management, grocery warehousing, logistics management, project management and technology startups for the last seven years. Some of his highlights in Fargo have been growing with the Myriad Mobile team as a software development company, partnering with NASA for testing drones with Botlink and helping change the face of downtown Fargo with new accounting and project management tools at Kilbourne Group. Nate is happiest finding the simplest solution to a complex problem, and with his background in software systems and a love for local food, Harvestable promises to be an exciting adventure for him.

Travis and Nate met through a mutual friend on a mid-August day and spent hours standing on the corner of 4th Avenue and Broadway talking about our community’s food systems. Nate, coming from a systems background, and Travis, coming from a culinary background envisioned a new phase of local food distribution. From that conversation, they developed a friendship and harbored the idea of transforming the local food system. After receiving an outpouring of support from the local food community, they decided to take the plunge and start developing the platform. They’ve spent countless hours brainstorming, designing and planning Harvestable while sharing many meals and spending quality time with Juniper, Nate’s Goldendoodle.

Harvestable partners local restaurants with farmers to create a local food network
Heinold and Rosenbluth aren’t afraid to take on all sides of this business venture…even feeding chickens!

The App

Harvestable is an online marketplace that gives farmers and chefs the right tools to market and transact with one another in an efficient, easy and fun way. Harvestable was started with hopes to be the best platform for any restaurant or chef to be able to source local ingredients. Without Harvestable, ordering local food is managed in emails, text messages, phone calls, excel sheets, notepads, Facebook messages… it’s a mess. Harvestable makes ordering local food as easy as placing an order from Sysco or any other large distributor. Log into one portal, order from all the available products and food gets delivered on the delivery date by the farmer! By providing a way to schedule deliveries, fewer trips with more products delivered are being made – which saves time and money.

Heinold and Rosenbluth knew they needed a much better tool for farmers to connect with chefs and market their products. They knew that farmers and food producers of all types are skilled artisans, but they often aren’t looking to create their own website and learn how to do email campaigns to promote their food. With Harvestable, the technical complexities are handled, so the producer can focus on making tasty products.

“There is an enhancement of the personal relationships that happen only when sourcing locally,” Heinold said. The personal touches are still present because farmers who use the system are still dropping off their produce and meeting the chef. But this way, they don’t have to worry about writing invoices or waiting for payments. The platform eases the technical and transactional work for both parties, leaving space to delight in one another’s craft. These strong, collaborative relationships are priceless.

The Idea

The idea stemmed from a simple question: Why isn’t more food sourced locally? Rosenbluth said, “we live in one of the most fertile areas on the planet, and yet every week we are still getting products from thousands of miles aways delivered here.” The reason, they determined, is because the industrial supply chain has built up a sophisticated system of production, distribution and marketing which has left the local food market behind and without support. Looking at systems available to local food producers, it became apparent that there wasn’t a modern solution to this problem, and so they set out to build just that. Other gig companies such as Airbnb and Etsy prove that if given the right tools, a market of independent artisans can compete with the established industrial companies.

Harvestable partners local restaurants with farmers to create a local food network
Doubting Thomas Farms is just one of the local growers that Harvestable aims to help. Local goods of all kinds can now find their way into kitchens with ease.

The Belief Behind Harvestable

Harvestable believes in communities and the power of food. “For thousands of years, local food wasn’t a luxury, but a requirement. Strong communities existed because everyone relied on the cooperation of their neighbors,” these two men said. “Unique cuisines were inspired from the limited access to ingredients.” Harvestable is a modern way of reconnecting to this very powerful network, which increases quality food access and expands opportunities for local food producers.

Food is one of the most powerful ways to communicate. Sharing your produce, cooking, or sharing a table with someone is a primary form of human connection. While there are plenty of fast food restaurants that will sell you flavor and calories, you can’t mass produce that basic connection with the food you eat. Harvestable aims to flip that and empower the small food system with advanced tools that compete with the industrial food system.

It’s hard to find anyone that’s not interested in local food to some extent. From the customer’s perspective, there is a strong interest in knowing more about the food they’re paying for. Restaurant goers are often willing to pay more for traceable food and will more frequently visit establishments who promote this story. In the competitive world of food service, you can either be the cheapest or be different. Local food is the ultimate differentiator because it’s a complete artisan product.

Get Involved

Create a free account at harvestable.com.

Are you a producer?
Take pictures of your available products, fill in the details and post to the platform.

Are you a chef?
You will find that the process is as easy as ordering from national distributors.

If you are a chef or producer and already have established connections, Harvestable can also help you make your business dealings more efficient.

If you’re not in a kitchen or in a field, you can support our movement by asking your server the next time you are eating out if they source with Harvestable. If they say yes, you know it’s local!

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Written by Alexandra Martin

Alexandra Martin is the editor of Fargo Monthly. She hails from Huntsville, Alabama, but graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri with a degree in Fashion Communications. When she's not in the office, she is busy taking care of her small zoo of pets, cooking up vegetables, or listening to true-crime podcasts.

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