Stop by any of the plethora of farm-to-fork restaurants, farmer’s markets and organic grocery stores that dot the city and you’ll realize how many New Yorkers are passionate about local, ethically-sourced food.
Tour company RootedNY, which just launched in May 2015, capitalizes on this love story and takes NYCers out of the city and straight to the source for a day.
It all started when Amanda Fuller was searching for a way to combine her passion for sustainable food with her background in business. With her college roommate, Clarissa Delap, she ended up developing the idea for RootedNY for the Brooklyn Public Library PowerUP Business Plan Competition. Halfway through the process, the pair realized they had to start the business for real.
Tours range from an Oysters and Beer Trip to Blue Point, Long Island, to a delicious Duchess County Farmstead Cheese trip. They’re also experimenting with new types of tours, such as foraging or gleaning, as well as combining multiple farms and other food and beverage producers into one trip.
I caught up with Amanda Fuller to learn more about RootedNY.
Tell me more about the tours
Our tours — which average $75 to $150 per person — typically include bus transportation from NYC and lunch, although guests can purchase tour-only tickets if they have their own transportation. Our average group size is 25 guests, however, they range from 12 to 50 guests.
So far, we have gotten the most excitement, interest and ticket sales for our oyster tours. The Blue Point trip on June 20th is nearly sold out already.
What type of person would most appreciate a RootedNY tour?
New Yorkers who adore food but haven’t had the opportunity to be directly exposed to the burgeoning sustainable food movement.
What is your earliest memory of farm fresh food?
Like most Americans today, I grew up shopping for food in a grocery store, and farms seemed like an abstract concept.
When I was about 8 years old, my family went to visit my mom’s friend, Mary. While it was by no means a farm, Mary kept a flock of chickens and tended a small garden. I tried to hide my shock when I was asked to collect the eggs for our breakfast directly from the chicken coop. Her son had to show me what to do. Walking into the coop behind him felt like entering a magical world, and I did my best to act nonchalant surrounded by the feathered creatures and placing their eggs into our basket.
What aspirations do you have for the future of RootedNY?
I would love to expand to other markets and create RootedDC in Washington DC, RootedSF in San Francisco or RootedChi in Chicago. I want to bring as many people as possible to local farms and create deep connections to the roots of our food system.
What’s one thing you wish every New Yorker understood about sustainable farms?
AF: Farming, particularly farming using sustainable growing practices and fair treatment of workers, is incredibly difficult work. Farmers face rising costs, uncertain land tenure, marketing challenges and onerous administrative burdens to operate their business successfully. Anyone who takes on this challenge deserves our deepest respect as well as a greater share of our food budget.
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*This post originally appeared on Drive the District. Photos courtesy of RootedNY.