How far would you go to help out a local farmer? Would you hop in the truck and haul berries out of flooded fields?
Steve Morrow and the team at Allen’s Foods in Bella Vista, Ark., did just that to help out a local strawberry farmer as torrential rains plagued the area and decimated crops in Northwest Arkansas this week.
“We had areas here that got 13 to 15 inches of rain,” he says. “It just ruined everything.”
Morrow, store manager for Allen’s Foods, got a call on May 1 from Dennis McGarrah at McGarrah Farms. They need to move fruit – fast. What McGarrah Farms could harvest was going to rot because local farmers markets were rained out.
“We’ve got a great relationship with this farmer,” Morrow says. “He’s got two farms and one is completely ruined. He told me just now he’s losing 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of berries there. He’s just decimated.”
Morrow worked out a deal to sell the berries at a discount, and return 100% of the proceeds to the farmer.
“I went out to the field in my truck, we loaded them up and 27 minutes later they were in customers’ carts,” he says.
He turned to a familiar medium – Facebook – to promote. See, Allen’s Foods – a single store operation about nine miles from Bentonville -- has an enthusiastic following on social media. More than 10,500 people follow the page, in a town with only about 27,000 people.
“That initial post got about 15,000 looks,” Morrow says. “We’re kind of Facebook masters at this point.”
Morrow posts daily – whether he’s on vacation, traveling or attending conferences. Allen’s Foods has been recognized by national media for its efforts. Morrow himself was AWG’s Store Manager of the Year in 2015.
The first batch of berries sold out in about five hours, so Morrow decided to expand to May 2 and sell berries at their regular price -- $5 a quart – with all proceeds going directly to McGarrah Farms.
“We figure it’s the least we can do,” he says. “And we’re raising a little money. We’ll raise a lot of awareness. People love to be involved in something like this for the community.”