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"Harvestly" bridges gap between local vendors, local consumers

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Posted at 5:30 AM, Oct 04, 2021

“Buy local” is a term frequently used on the Central Coast. A startup company, led by a Cal Poly student, is making it easier to do just that by bridging the gap between local vendor and local consumer.

Fresh, just harvested, local produce, and all kinds of other goods: Harvestly is your one-stop shop for all things local.

“We give them the service of listing their products on our website, and then we actually deliver to the end consumer,” said Walter Lafky, founder and CEO of Harvestly, a hyperlocal marketplace.

As a teenager growing up in Oregon, Lafky sold tomatoes on his family’s farm and discovered a logistics problem.

“It felt that there was this miss/lapse between the customer and the vendor. There was no way to connect,” said Lafky.

As a local consumer, finding a local vendor can be a challenge, and vice versa.

“No one really talked about how to do it. We’re trying to solve that issue for the consumer,” said Lafky. “You could go to farmers market and shop for each individual food, but then you’re wasting a lot of time. When we looked at the customer side, we really set out to make it convenient to support local.”

Lafky has a team of developers working on software with an end goal of making Harvestly a nationwide service, but one that allows people to buy local anywhere.

Currently, Harvestly.co is available in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County with more than 160 local vendors ranging from Irish Oaks Ranch to Barb the Baker.

“Local company, all-natural ingredients,” said Spencer Crotty, manager for Root Elixirs, a San Luis Obispo-based company specializing in helping create the perfect craft cocktail.

“Craft soda mixers; we try to make it easy for you at your own bar to be a home bartender,” said Crotty.

Root Elixirs has been with Harvestly since the beginning, which has spanned about a year and a half.

“It gets our product in the light of what’s local in this area. It’s gotten it to local customers that haven’t seen it in stores. That’s what’s great about Harvestly; it takes the farmers market, puts it online, and they bring it directly to your doorstep,” said Crotty.

And if you’re wondering if those delivered products are fresh:

“They’re made fresh to order or harvested day-of or day before or baked that morning. We get them day-of and immediately assemble them into these orders. The refrigerated things need to stay cold until the last minute,” said Lars Schliderink, head of operations for Harvestly.

Harvestly consumers and supporters love the convenience.

“I got kids, got a husband, got a job, I come home, and it’s here waiting for us. They have amazing, prepared foods. Not just making life easier, but fresh and local,” said Maxi Coven, a Harvestly customer from San Luis Obispo.

All local, all the time.

“We live in this amazing area of agriculture, but if you go to a big food store, it’s shipped from hours away. Harvestly allows us to eat locally,” said Coven.

Harvestly plans to launch their app the first of the year. As far as expansion goes, the service will remain readily available in San Luis Obispo County. Santa Barbara County residents can get delivery of anything that is currently on their website, but at the start of the new year, full service with vendors from Santa Barbara County will also be available.