We market and distribute wholesale Carolina organic farm produce to retailers, restaurants and buying clubs. We think (heck, we KNOW) that a sustainable food system is based on providing fresh local fruit, vegetables, and herbs while protecting the environment.
We're farmer-owned and we act like it. Eighty percent of our sales go right back to our growers. Our customers get fresh organic veggies and fruits, along with the knowledge that they're enabling farmers to protect their family land.
By pooling diverse harvests from several regions, we're able to meet the demand for a steady stream of high-quality, seasonal food choices throughout the year.
We were born in 2004 as a project of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) and a recipient of a $48,000 Tobacco Trust Fund Commission grant. The goal of CFSA then is our mission now—to support emerging organic farmers and organic tobacco farmers while improving the supply of local organic produce.
In 2005, we became a private, grower- and manager-owned LLC with 13 grower and 2 staff owners. Today, ECO works with over 40 growers and 100 customers.
In 2011, CFSA recognized ECO as its Business of the Year, stating, "ECO is honored for their commitment to helping sustainable family farms thrive in the Carolinas."
We enable participating organic growers to profitably sell their products and support efforts to improve production and packaging techniques. ECO also offers a way for conventional growers to enter the expanding organic market, including assistance in the transition to organic farming. (To learn about this program, visit the Grow With ECO page.)
Most of the items on our availability list are still in the fields when you place your order. After orders come in to the office, we call our growers to tell them what to harvest. The produce is received, quality-checked, and stored in one of our three temperature zones. It goes to customers within 1-2 days after arrival.
Each winter we collect updated demand data from our customers and tailor production to the local market demand. Collaboration with our customers is essential to our success. We've increased certain crops and initiated new ones based on suggestions from chefs. As part of our mission, we educate the public about the benefits of buying local, organic produce.
Sandi Kronick, CEO
Sandi got her start in the sustainable food scene in college as the Local Food Coordinator for a 700-member dining co-op in Oberlin, Ohio. After learning how to communicate efficiently with the area's Amish farmers (who don't drive or use phones, fax or email), she figured she could set up a vibrant local food system anywhere. After consulting with Cleveland restaurants to help them set up local buying programs, Sandi moved to NC and hooked up with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, launching ECO in 2004. She oversees all business management activities, ensuring that the company is growing in-line with our goals of making a positive impact in both the consumer and grower communities. In 2010 Sandi was awarded the 40 Under 40 Business Leadership Award for the Triangle area in NC and traveled to Chile on behalf of the Chilean Trade Commission to give lectures on the US organic marketplace. Sandi serves as the agribusiness representative on the Administrative Council for Southern SARE, the sustainable ag arm of the USDA. Sandi's a proud 'opportunivore,' (she experiments in the kitchen with whatever is available). Favorite veggies: spinach, fennel, dino kale.
Alexis Luckey, Chief Operating Officer
Alexis got her start in sustainable agriculture in Charlottesville, among the farm-dotted foothills of the Blue Ridge, while working at the University of Virginia. She eventually abandoned the dusty shelves of academia for Peace Corps service in Africa, building school gardens and leading community workshops on permaculture and natural medicine. During a stint at the Wallace Center in DC, she worked with food hubs nationwide that are transforming local food systems, and is thrilled to land at ECO, at the forefront of this movement. She is a big fan of beets, and bacon.
Andrew Pinney, Production Manager
Andrew joined the ECO team as an intern in January of 2013. After serving as our full-time Quality Control & Nutrition Specialist since June of 2013, he moved into the role of Production Manager in August 2015. Andrew has a Bachelor's degree from Appalachian State University in Nutrition and Dietetics and a Culinary Arts degree from Johnson & Wales University. The entire ECO team gets excited every time Andrew starts chopping veggies in the kitchen at the ECO-Hub - he's got mad skills! Favorite veggies: broccoli and daikon radishes. And anything pickled.
Gary Stevens, Sales Manager
Gary joins ECO with more than twenty years of organic sales and distribution experience. Gary started his career with A & P as a Produce Manager and Merchandising Specialist and has gone on to develop vast sales and shipper experience with companies such as Albert's Organics and Four Seasons Produce. He is eager to help regional organic growers improve their marketability, thereby increasing certified organic acreage and putting North Carolina on the map as a major organic agricultural producing state. He enjoys marathon swimming, running, cycling, mountain biking, triathlons, and surfing. Favorite veggies: broccoli, artichokes, asparagus and potatoes.
Laura Cloak, Sales Coordinator
Laura is so thrilled to land at ECO. She got to know and work with many Triangle-area farmers and producers in her previous position at LoMo Market and chose to work at ECO to continue to support local producers and work toward expanding the market for local. Her first produce job was picking strawberries in northern Ohio, she's also been a produce team member, local buyer & Green Mission rep for Whole Foods Market and worked on several Triangle-area farms. Laura has a Master's of Environmental Management from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment where she studied ecosystem science & conservation and developed a passion and deep respect for sustainable agriculture. She likes to run marathons every now and then and hopes to start a farm one day. Favorite veggies: sweet potatoes, snap peas, garlicky greens.
Sebastian Naskaris, Operations and Logistics Manager
Sebastian started his career developing his standard for sustainability and food artistry. He spent most of his twenties working on the line and on farms in Italy, Spain, and Upstate NY.
In 2009, he noticed few people had access to well grown food and decided to try helping. He became an inaugural FoodCorps service member and then Fellow. With FoodCorps, he built school gardens and helped increase the amount of fresh and local veggies in public school cafeterias. Civil service informed his belief that supporting sustainability and food access required evolving the business of food. He took a Supply Chain Fellowship with The Center for Environmental Farming Systems and Supply Chain Resource Cooperative at NC State. As a Supply Chain Fellow, he worked as part of a USDA-funded team to re-design local food supply chains, increasing access for small and mid-scale producers to mainstream markets. Sebastian is grateful to be on the ECO team. With the company, he seeks to continue serving his goals of scaling sustainable agriculture, serving food artistry, and ensuring food equity. Favorite veggie: arugula by the handful.
DeShannon Correa, Office Manager
DeShannon is another New York transplant, but always a southern girl at heart. DeShannon has over 15 years experience as an office manager. She previously worked in the Food & Beverage department of a hotel, assisting in the coordination of catered events and is excited to learn about organic farming and processes. Favorite veggies: collard greens and asparagus.
Trace Ramsey, Quality Assurance Manager
Trace came to ECO in 2008 after five successful years as Produce Manager at Tidal Creek Food Co-op in Wilmington, NC. He's been involved in agriculture since he was eleven, picking strawberries for a roadside stand. He has been an apple inspector, a community garden activist, a produce-buying club organizer, a farmer, and Food Not Bombs cook. Outside of ECO, Trace is also an award winning writer. Favorite veggies: broccoli, collards, garlic.
Derrick Hall, Delivery Driver
Derrick joined the ECO team in 2015. He previously worked in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia in the paper recycling industry. Derrick enjoys fishing, kayaking, building furniture from re-purposed wood and working on his vegetable garden. Derrick felt right at home from the moment he visited ECO and he is thrilled to be part of ECO's commitment to supplying quality, local produce. Favorite veggies: peperoncini, chili peppers and romaine lettuce.
Jeff Brown, Packer
Jeff joined ECO in 2014 with over 15 years of grocery and restaurant experience. Jeff has two beautiful children and also works as a certified massage therapist and he teaches restorative yoga in Durham. Favorite veggies: the ones he grows!
Peter Mayer, Delivery Driver
Peter joined the ECO delivery team in June 2013. He's excited to be a part of what he calls our "better model in the business of getting produce to the people" and he's also a fan of the great people he works with and the great produce he's delivering! When he's not behind the wheel of the ECO delivery truck, he enjoys getting up to the mountains or paddling our local rivers. Favorite veggies: kale, peppers and onions.
Randy Degraffenreaidt, Assistant Quality and Inventory Control Manager
Randy is a long time Chatham County resident who first came to ECO in 2010. After leaving for a short time for school, Randy returned to ECO in the summer of 2012. In his spare time Randy works with a variety of youth and community interest groups and also enjoys hunting and fishing. Favorite veggies: collards and squash.
Theodore Kerr, Warehouse Support
Theodore joins ECO after his work at Tiny Farm in Hillsborough. He has a solid background working at organic farms in North Carolina. Theodore very much supports local farmers and their economic growth and is glad to have landed at ECO.
Theodore enjoys the healing benefits of cold thermogenesis and long distance running combined with deep rhythmic breathing. His favorite veggie is sunflower microgreens!
Matthew Churchill, Warehouse Packer
Matthew wanted to work at ECO because it seemed like a cool and interesting place. We think so and are glad Matthew joined up. In college, he studied respiratory therapy but he enjoys our laid back style. Matthew will try almost any food and will gladly sample the great produce from our farmers.
Nancy and Tim Bass - Sunburst Tomato