Jeff Bender hopes to expand his vegetable and fruit production with institutional and wholesale customers, but the farm is limited by its ability to deliver produce in a fresh, refrigerated condition. His farm, called Bender Farms, is a mid-scale diversified operation that produces tobacco, vegetables, and fruits in Warren County. Bender Farms will install a refrigeration unit into a repurposed box truck to use as a delivery vehicle for supplying institutional and wholesale customers.
Currently, Jeff is working on having a refrigerated truck refurbished and repaired for his grant project. The truck will be used to collect produce from the farm and deliver it to the Working Landscapes Chopped Produce Initiative. Working Landscapes is a non-profit entity in Warren County that works towards sustainable agriculture and rural economic development for Warren and surrounding counties. This relationship represents a primary market for Jeff. The Chopped Produce Initiative processes raw produce into a product that can be easily distributed and cooked by institutions. Customers of the Chopped Produce Initiative include the Warren and Durham County School System. A refrigerated truck was essential in order to make reliable deliveries of fresh produce to Working Landscapes. In this distribution arrangement, Jeff receives the payment from the customers and pays Working Landscapes a percentage of the profits for the processing and packaging of the produce.