When Plow to Porch began as a produce delivery service in 2008, the primary goal was to bring fruits and vegetables from regional farmers to the front doors of subscribers. But as the business evolved, Plow to Porch’s owner Pam Plesons also began delivering packaged foods and beverages crafted by Santa Barbara County food purveyors — those culinary artisans who, usually under the “cottage food” permits that allow commercial cooking at home, craft delicious goods in small batches.
Like other farm delivery services, Plow to Porch’s business exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s emphasis on supporting these packaged goods amplified, as well, just as the purveyors’ usual retail and catering opportunities disappeared during the lockdowns.
“We started getting calls from businesses like The Santa Barbara Fish Market and Elubia’s Kitchen to help them reach an audience now that restaurants were closed and catering had dried up due to limits on social gatherings,” said Plesons, who’s been adding new products almost weekly. “This has been a win-win for everyone involved, including our members who now have access to a much wider variety of wonderful local foods.”
Out of the dozens of purveyors that Plesons delivers, she gave us a rundown on some of the most popular items. Become a member at plowtoporch.com.
FIREFLY PIZZA COMPANY: Founded in early 2018 by Jake Hillinger — who moved from Wisconsin to Santa Barbara with his dog, Tucker, in July 2016 — and his now-fiancée, Cari Orr, Firefly was inspired by Hillinger’s upbringing in a traditional Sicilian pizza kitchen. Their wood-fired pizza quickly became a popular catering option, and then came COVID. “Jake and Cari needed another way to sell their gourmet, naturally leavened wood-fired pizzas, so with a lot of work and innovation, they packaged and froze their pizzas and began selling them at Plow to Porch,” said Plesons of the pies, which cook in six to eight minutes. She enjoys the Bohemian and the Ellwood styles. fireflypizza.com
HIPPY POP POPCORN: In normal times, Eve Mitchell’s all-natural, vegan popcorn is a hit at breweries and wineries, but she was added on Plow to Porch’s online store in April, where it’s been a hit. “Coined as Hippy Popcorn and passed down from her hippy parents, Mitchell’s popcorn features delicious superfood nutritional yeast (aka Hippy Dust) as its star ingredient,” said Plesons. “Long used as a vegan substitute for cheese, its complex umami flavor profile lends itself to a variety of popcorn flavors.” hippypop.com
SUGAR CAT STUDIO: Alison Riede combined her Syracuse University art degree with a love of baking to make cupcakes her canvas, which she first sold at tasting rooms around Santa Barbara, often paired with wine. After winning an episode of Cupcake Wars on The Food Network, Riede wrote a cookbook and launched her line of Sugar Cat Studio gourmet cupcake mixes, some of which include beer, wine, or coffee in the recipes. “Cupcakes are becoming more elevated and sophisticated, and her cake mixes are perfect for a refined dinner party or get-together,” said Plesons. “She also offers plenty of non-boozy cupcake mixes that are perfect for baking with the whole family.” sugarcatstudio.com
EMPOWERED BAKERY: Empowered Bakery owners Maura and Darrell Mitchell met during stressful times, when Maura was trying to escape an abusive marriage. Darrell helped her escape, and they were later married. They founded the bakery to empower victims of domestic violence — 5 percent of net profits for to the National Domestic Violence Hotline — and help everyone reduce stress. Their Empowered Bakery Bites include ashwagandha, an adaptogen “super herb” that, according to both ancient wisdom and recent research, helps our bodies adapt to everyday stress. empoweredbakery.com
SANTA BARBARA SOUPS: Alanna Wiltshire’s line of simple-to-cook, nutrient-rich meals are made from high-quality ingredients. “As a mother of two, she knows how busy life can be,” said Plesons. “Everyone has hectic schedules and finding time to prepare a meal, let alone a healthy one, can be a daunting task. Combining her passion for healthy eating and natural ingredients, she created Santa Barbara Soups to offer easy-to-prepare, deliciously healthy one-pot meals anyone can enjoy.” santabarbarasoups.com
SIDEYARD SHRUBS: Sarah Bourke launched her line of shrubs — which are fruit vinegar drinks full of probiotics that are good for your gut — in June 2020, hoping to support small-scale agriculture and frontline farmworkers in Southern California during the pandemic. “Shrubs are pure, fragrant, full of flavor, and versatile and also packed with probiotics,” said Plesons, explaining that Bourke’s small-batch, hand-bottled fermentations never include sugar. “She believes in letting fruit sing! With just the right amount of tang, her fruit vinegars are the perfect addition to sparkling water, salad dressings, marinades, cocktails, quick pickling recipes, and more.” Bourke also gets her hands dirty, volunteering regularly for the farms where she sources her fruit: Fairview Gardens in Goleta and Elder Flat Farm in Los Alamos, among others. drinksideyard.com
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