Orders by noon on Tuesday, $100 minimum, for free, no-contact delivery on Wednesday.
By REBECCA JONES
For Montclair Local
Shopping for food is an ongoing struggle for many Montclairites.
Township residents have a couple of options for getting farm-fresh produce, meat, and eggs. The farmers market on Walnut Street takes place every Saturday, and Boxed Organics, the Bloomfield-Montclair CSA, and Montclair Food Co-op deliver from local farms biweekly and weekly. This may not be a complete list, as things are changing all the time.
But social distancing has made lines at the farmers market long, and some customers prefer individually selecting what they purchase over getting what has been harvested that week, as is the case with a farm share.
At least one organization, Profeta Farms, in Readington, is now delivering its organic produce and organic pasture-raised chicken, beef, and pork to Montclair one day a week.
It may be the first of many.
“We were just testing out the idea of home delivery in Maplewood and South Orange in March,” said co-owner Joanne Malino, “when suddenly everything changed and people everywhere started to need delivery of groceries.”
She and her husband, Paul Profeta, residents of Montclair, have been adding towns one by one since. “We’re just trying to get healthy food to people as safely as we can,” she said. They deliver to West Orange, Livingston, Short Hills, Chatham, and, now, Montclair.
Local customer Andrew Fine said, “It’s been a valuable service during a very stressful time. We intend to continue to shop at Profeta Farms after this is over, and hopefully visit in person as well.”
Malino and Profeta started the farm in 2012 as a passion project. “Paul had his own business in real estate investment, and I was getting certified as a nutrition coach,” Malino said. “We were both really passionate about clean, healthy eating. Paul already owned the property, and we thought, ‘What if we turned it into real working organic farm?’”
And that’s just what they did.
They hired an experienced organic farmer and a team of local residents to manage operations, and turned the property into 370-acre organic farm and market, with an additional 150-acre grazing pasture and another 1,000 leased acres nearby to grow their own organic hay to feed the cows over the winter.
“Our local billboard ads on Route 202 say ‘Food Beyond Organic,’ because we have always not only met, but surpassed, the requirements for USDA organic certification in the treatment of our soil, crops, and animals,” Malino wrote the Local.
For the first six years, they sold what they couldn’t eat at a small farm stand on their Hunterdon County property. Then, in spring 2019, they opened their new 25,000-square-foot Profeta Farms Market, selling farm-fresh produce alongside their certified organic homemade ice cream, rustic farmstead pizzas, fresh-baked goods, and prepared grab-and-go meals.
“We just opened our onsite full-service market last year,” Malino said, “and we were really excited and focused on that. Then the whole world changed.”
Friends and neighbors in Montclair had long been asking when they might start a delivery service, as the farm is far away, so it was something they had already been thinking about doing.
They had even done a trial delivery service to Maplewood, where Profeta grew up.
Then came the shutdown.
Supermarket shopping became dangerous and delivery options became scarce. Malino and her husband knew they could do more to help, so “we went straight from beta to adding new towns every week,” she said.
“It’s been a lot of change fast, but I feel like we’re doing something that is helping people, and we feel really good about that.”