Friday, January 11, 2013

The curious case of Home Grow-in Grocery, Ltd.

Seattle is only a couple of hours from Vancouver, and Vancouver has as much interest in local food as we do down here.  I recently ran across a series of articles written by Colleen Kimmet about a local food venture up there that apparently went wrong. 
Picture courtesy of The Tyee

Colleen has spent the last few years writing about a variety of issues related to agriculture.  With that introduction, here's the case of the Home Grow-in Grocery, Ltd. 

The basic business idea was a market that specialized in locally grown and produced produce; that sounds pretty good.  Here's a quote from a news story in Oct, 2010

"What I'm trying to do with my growers," says Reynolds, "is bring a market to them, rather than them having to go to the market. I want to show there is a market for their produce seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year." Deb Reynolds, founder of Home Grow-in Grocery, Ltd. 

This is actually a problem that I'd like to have a solution to on my farm.  It's difficult for me to get to a farmers market because I'd have to staff a booth, and public-contact people can be hard to find.  And I have to justify the cost of an employee by the sales profit, which means I have to do something that is relatively high volume. 

Apparently that was the case for many farmers in BC, and a number of them invested in this venture -- both cash, $10,000 in one case -- and in product, allowing the market to recieve and sell their produce without getting paid for it, for months.   Customers also invested in this idea, paying in advance for boxes of produce, similar to the CSA system that's sprung up in many cities around America. 

It all came to a head when the market declared bankruptcy and the founder of the market also dissapeared, apparently owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to farmers and customers, as well as individuals who invested between $2,500 and $10,000 each. 

After this the market was rebranded and apparently continued operation.

The folks who got involved with this apparently handed over money and product with no written agreements, and without what I'd consider a reasonable amount of caution; farming is full of people who are personable, have great ideas, and are good at promotion, but fall short when it comes to the boots-on-the-ground grit that it takes to do the daily operations grind. 


becky3086 said...

It is too bad that such a great idea started this way but glad to hear they kept it going

wtf-ery said...

Sadly, seems a common thread. You hit the nail on the head when you said " farming is full of people who are personable, have great ideas, and are good at promotion, but fall short when it comes to the boots-on-the-ground grit that it takes to do the daily operations grind."

100% truth.

Anonymous said...

This situation wasn't about not wanting to do the gritty work-- the woman who started the whole thing was commuting 10 hours/day (5hrs each way) to sell her produce.

This was about math fail, getting in over one's head and not wanting to disappoint a bunch of people who'd already given you money upfront. So she cracked and bailed rather than face the music.

It is still an instructive and sad story, though.

Unknown said...

LOL, who told you she was commuting 10 hours a day, 5 hours one way? Are you f'n kidding me, I can assure you her commute was not 10 hours a day, she lived in Surrey. Also, farming had nothing to do with it what so ever, other than the fact that she was a lier and lied to every single person she came in contact with, she bought most of her vegetables and other products from a grocer that brought in produce from California and Mexico. The product was then brought to the house she rented in Surrey where it was stripped of any stickers and original packaging so that she can tell her customers it was all local and organic. She is such a con artist. I feel bad forth restaurants she supplied, like Vij's that sold their meals to their customers under the impression that it was local and organic, such lies.

Jenna Samuels said...

Nelson is right about Deb Reynolds als Deb Hyldtoft. She is a well known scammer and con artist. She disappeared from the Home Grown-in Grocery with hundreds of thousands of dollars from innocent people. After that she went on and had her own dog rescue and took money from other rescuers. She said puppies were brought to her rescue, but in fact she went across the border to buy cheap puppies from Seattle and smuggle them across. She is still smuggling puppies and advertises them on Kijiji. Deb Hyldtoft also poses as a registered nurse doing home care, so she can gain access to people's homes. She also makes thousands of dollars by suing people for accidents in parking lots and on their property. She lives in Richmond BC. Now you know the real Deb Reynolds.....

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jenna, thanks for that information. This Deb Reynolds/Hyldtoft sounds like a real scamming pro. This whole thing kindof reminds me of former famous racehorse trainer Maria Borell, who also scammed people out of money and horses and wrecked multiple farms till she was charged for 42 counts of animal cruelty.