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December 24, 2015
Hi Friends, Members, Farmers, Producers, Partners, and Fans,
As this year comes to a close next week, I can't help but reflect on the year that seems to have (rapidly) disappeared in the past 12 months. It was, bar none, the most challenging year of my life. 4P Foods was, is, and has become my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love what we are doing and see that we are making a difference every day. To that end, I owe an apology to the many family and friends I have neglected, but I also owe those same wonderful people all of my gratitude and love for being so understanding and supportive.
Looking back, I see a year that was full of many challenges. As a startup, we ran tight on cash and couldn't invest in the things we wanted, and at times, needed. We lost several of our members who loved the idea of local food, but just couldn't stick with it. Mother Nature threw us snow storms, an early frost, and now - unseasonably warm weather that is going to create some huge challenges for spring crops.
Looking ahead though, I am endlessly excited. The, "I have trouble sleeping at night" kind of excited... Here's some of the reasons why: We launched our dairy share today (it's going to be really, really delicious). We have more customization options coming your way so you can pick and choose what's in your bag. In a couple months, we will be launching a direct-home-delivery service so you can tell ALL your friends about us. I have been working with Harvard University to create a feasibility study looking at developing a Food Port in Ward 7 or Ward 8 of DC - a development that would begin to move the National policy conversation around what food equity can look like. And much more.
The future is exciting - and not just for *what* we do, but *WHY* we do it. We hope you'll join us for what lies ahead. On that note, I'd be remiss not to mention: We'll be raising capital in Q1 of 2016 to help 4P continue to make an impact - nothing would make me happier than building our investor community from our 4P community. I'd love to chat if you want to know more.
The highlight of my year is our team. I have an amazing team that inspires me everyday: Justin, Bonnie, Chris, Tim, Andy, Jon, and Annabel: You are wonderful people. Thank you for everything you do. If any of you members have been touched or impressed by anyone on the 4P Team, please reach out to them and give them a high five (or a hug, or both). They are all over worked, and yet their passion for social justice within our food system only gets stronger. Thank you, team.
None of this would be possible without the real heroes and heroines: Our farmers and producer partners. I tip my hat, I bow my head, I raise my glass to our farmer partners.I think about the Clark Family in Sperryville, VA. 10 months ago we started a conversation that sounded something like, "Hey, we believe in the practices that you use in raising these pigs... we want to tell your story to our members, but we have no idea how it's going to go - will you help?" And help they did. The entire Clark family has been on board to grow with the 4P family, and in turn, we have helped them to grow. Meghan graduated from WVU last May, and she is taking over the family farm to continue building what her parents started. Our impact, YOUR impact, is making a difference.
I think about Ryan Day from Eridani Farms. He graduated college not long ago and told his parents he wanted to be a farmer. Fast forward a bit and he is growing hydroponic watercress in a refurbished shipping container in Northern Virginia - - a modern day scientist/farmer who plans to build a business, a farm, and a story that will inspire others. You'll be receiving his first harvest of watercress in two weeks. Our impact, YOUR impact, is making a difference.I think about the kids at the YMCA this summer who, in SE DC, ran a successful farmers market with the food from our farms. They learned about how food grows, how to cook and prepare it, how to market it, and why this is important. They brought fruits and vegetables into one of the worst food deserts of our city, and did so at a price point that made it not only accessibly, but a bargain.
Our impact, YOUR impact, is making a difference. See photo below - a shot from our market run by the kids.I think about many others.These producers are our lifeline - quite literally - to a more sustainable, healthy, and equitable future. If you do anything this holiday season to give thanks, give thanks to a farmer.
This is exciting. This is the future. This is a community of people who care about what they eat, why they eat it, and how that impacts the world around them. This is you making this possible. May you have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a wonderful conversation about where your food comes from. From all of us here at 4P Foods: Thank You.
-Tom McDougall, Founder, 4P Foods