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Local businesses come together to offer plant-based food delivery boxes featuring local producers

During these challenging times for everyone, people are finding ways to bring light to the situation and offer what they can in innovative collaborative ways. Karen McAthy, Chef and Founder of Blue Heron Cheese has united with Naomi Arnaut, Owner of Say Hello Sweets to bring the public a curated pre-order package service called “Love in the Time of Pandemic” that features several local producers. We had the pleasure to chat with Karen McAthy and Naomi Arnaut about what they are doing during this current transition. 


How are you dealing with the situation in the world right now? 

Karen: “I think, like many, like nearly everyone, there is a sense of overwhelm, and anxiety. For me, personally, I am trying to focus on the things that I can control, or do, the very pragmatic things, be useful in some way. My business partner, Colin Medhurst, is also a firefighter, so he is busy doing deeply important work right now coordinating logistics, and his wife, is a nurse practitioner working in the very thick of it, so I try to keep focused on how we get the day to day to happen as we adapt to a new 'normal'.” 

Naomi: "Situations like this can bring out both the best and the worst in humanity, and though anxious and concerned, it has been good to see some aspects of the community coming together to do things like check on elderly neighbours, or deliver prescriptions and supplies to those who can't get out to do such things.  Hopefully, out of this, some good changes will evolve." 


What made you want to create the collaborative food delivery boxes? 

Karen: “A collaborative ethos has informed Blue Heron from the beginning. Colin and I have routinely reached out to or included other small-scale food processors in events or box offerings, so this idea is not entirely novel to us. We have also done a lot of collaboration with specifically Say Hello Sweets, (We did a series of Ice Cream Socials in 2018) and this concept seemed a natural one to consider. I was chatting with Naomi, and we just wanted to come up with a way that could help other small scale food processors find a creative way to continue to serve our respective client bases, and to continue doing what we do (making our plant-based food products).” 

Naomi: “This situation has forced or compelled us to look at other ways of operating, and to band together to find creative solutions. This was one way to do that, and we are offering clients wholesale pricing so that it hopefully encourages folks to support a wide number of small businesses that are trying to reconfigure their models. We are getting a lot of interest, and we have had a number of other small-scale food producers ask to join the box program, and we are so fortunate to have Dima Yagnuk, www.yagnyuk.com (who also designed the logos for Blue Heron, Say Hello Sweets and Biota Fermentation), offering his services to design an independent website for this service, as well as an independent Instagram page for the Love in the Time of Pandemic program.” 


How do you think this will help the companies involved? 

Karen: We are hoping that in creating a delivery/distribution alternative for these small-scale producers which aren't ready for the large-scale distribution system, that this will make it easier for folks in the community at large want to support them and us. We are hoping to coordinate delivery within the network of our vendors and this will also increase prospects for curbside delivery of not just the collaborative box program, but also, the independent businesses being able to coordinate delivery of their own products in concert with.  

This current transition is not going to be short term, and it is not going to see us all 'go back to normal', this is the time to really evaluate how we do business, how we interact as communities, and how we can, hopefully, find a new way to thrive. 


Companies collaborating with the ‘Love in the Time of Pandemic' food delivery boxes: 

  • Biota Fermentation 
  • House of Yee (dumplings) 
  • Hoochy Booch Kombucha 
  • Kula Kitchen (West African cuisine) 
  • Living Lotus Chocolates 
  • Lita's Mexican Foods 
  • Nina's Pierogi 
  • Zimt Chocolates 
  • Nutmeg Mylk (plant-based mylks) 
  • Tempea Tempeh 
  • Coastie Burger (soon to be joining the program) 
  • Blue Heron 
  • Say Hello Sweets 

If you would like to support these local companies and learn more, please visit: panicbuttonyvr.square.site/