Two months ago, homegrown entrepreneur Josh Goodson started a food delivery service specializing in local and organic produce, breads, dairy products, meats and specialty items, like veggie burgers, jam, and salsa.
Thus far, Local Yokel Foods is a family affair of sorts. Its three employees −Goodson, his wife Celeste, and his sister Alexa Peterson− work directly with Goodson’s parents (who own and operate a garden and orchard in the Powell area) and 17 other Ohio farmers and producers to bring fresh fare to local households. Orders are made at the company’s website and deliveries go out on a weekly basis.
Yesterday, we spoke with the former fire protection engineer to learn why he went into business for himself, Local Yokel’s three-fold objective, and what the company is doing to be environmentally friendly.
Melanie McIntyre: Why start a food delivery service?
Josh Goodson: I like good food. Food tastes best when it comes straight from the farm. Growing up surrounded by the farming community, I thought I could make that connection once again and share it with consumers. Once we found other companies around the country doing the same thing, we knew it would work here in Columbus.
MM: What is Local Yokel’s main objective?
JG: Our objective is threefold. First, is to deliver fresh, healthy, good-tasting food to the end consumer. Second, help support local farmers that are so important to our food supply. Third, to help the local economy by being a sustainable business.
MM: Your website acknowledges that not all produce can be grown in Ohio, there are times when certain produce is not in season, and that Local Yokel sometimes will contract with out-of-state farmers. When you do that, where are the farmers located and what criteria must those farmers meet?
JG: We are committed to getting as much food from Ohio as possible. As of now, all our food comes from Central Ohio. All other food will be from the United States and will be certified organic. We want the highest quality produce for our customers.
MM: Does the criteria differ for Ohio farmers?
JG: Yes. We currently work directly with local farmers around Columbus; not all our farmers are certified organic. Some use organic methods and some are conventional. Everything is labeled as to how it is grown, so our customers know exactly what they are getting.
MM: The Local Yokel website also states that one of the company’s goals is being eco-friendly. How is Local Yokel working to achieve that?
JG: We use as little plastic bags as possible when packing our foods. We use 100 percent recyclable plastic bins that are swapped out each time a customer re-orders. We use reusable thermal bags for frozen/refrigerated products. We recycle plastic water bottles and freeze them for ice packs. We recycle paper, shred it, and use it for cushioning groceries in the green bins.
MM: You and your family recently relocated to Central Ohio. Where were you living prior to your return and why did you move here specifically?
JG: I was born and raised here. My family has strong roots in Delaware County. The farm I grew up on had been in my family since the 1800s. My grandfather was born in the house I grew up in. I was laid off for the second time in two years. I have wanted to do my own business for a while and we moved back to Columbus near family to either find work or start a business, and I found the guts to start a business. Since graduating from [Eastern Kentucky University] in 2003, we have lived in five states, most recently Pennsylvania.
MM: What were you doing professionally before launching Local Yokel?
JG: I was working as a fire protection engineer. I majored in fire and safety engineering technology in college.
MM: Has your previous job influenced the way you conduct business at Local Yokel?
JG: I realize that success is dependent on us. When you work for a large corporation you don’t feel the connection between you and the success of the overall company. We need to produce a product that we can be proud of, that our customers will appreciate. That being said, as an engineer you have to have an eye for detail. That is something I have tried to bring with me.
MM: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced starting your own business and how did you overcome it.
JG: I think all small businesses have challenges getting the word out and bringing in customers. The same goes for us. We have found that making the right connections around town can really help. The Small Business Beanstalk has been really helpful, as well as the Ohio Environmental Council. Our farmers and artisans have been great about spreading the word also.
For additional information about Local Yokel’s delivery schedule, bestsellers, and what differentiates its produce from produce at your local big box grocery, read “Locals Can Turn to Yokel for Fresh Foods” at ColumbusUnderground.com.
More information can be found online at LocalYokelFoods.com.