Vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, bread and flour, noodles and sauces, detergents and face-cream – everything that you would expect from an ordinary organic grocery store is also available at Laiseacker organic farm. The difference: the family business offers a delivery service in addition to its own farm shop in Nußdorf near Stuttgart, Germany. You can order either by phone or online. The high-quality natural products are then placed in a crate and delivered directly to the door with a Sprinter.
An idea – as simple as it was brilliant. And when the family business from Nußdorf in Germany began to implement this, it was one thing above all: ahead of its time. “In the late’80s my parents noticed the customer interest in home deliveries,” says Tabea Sanzio, who has been managing the family business since 2015 together with her siblings and a long-time employee. Sanzio’s parents, who had previously worked on a farm in Hesse, Germany took over the family business in the district of Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart, in 1987. “My grandpa asked me at my wedding, if I did not want to come home again. He even worked on the Laiseacker farm until his very last day,” says Tabea Sanzio.
The young couple followed the call from Württemberg. When Gudi and Patrick Butz took over the farm 30 years ago, they went to markets just like Gudi’s father Eugen Kurz had done years before. The Internet was just starting and online shops were still a thing of the future. “Ordering was done by fax or by telephone,” recalls 27-year-old Tabea. Whoever wanted to place an order mostly just gave the driver a note for the following week.
Tabea’s parents placed the crates in a small barn at first; the paperwork was done with pen and paper. Crate for crate the farm shop and its selection grew steadily. In 1995 the organic farm switched to computers. The traditional company also took a pioneering role with their online shop. “However, nothing has changed in our origins of horticultural craftsmanship. This will always be our own,” emphasizes Sanzio. In the meantime, orders can also be made via messenger services. Or you can simply visit Laiseacker at their idyllic farm shop.
We have gone from crazy people to pioneers.
But what now appears to be a success story, back then met with resistance. At the end of the 1980s when the Butz family changed their farm to organic, began to grow vegetables and then even wanted to deliver them to their customers, many people thought they were crazy. The success of the Laiseacker organic farm is proven by the fact that they have several imitators. Today you can find fruit and vegetables from organic farms in every supermarket. “The interest in organic products has long been removed from its niche, today it is a trend,” says Sanzio. “We have gone from crazy people to pioneers.”
Naturally, the 27-year-old is pleased about this development. But she also knows the dark side of the “organic hype,” she says. “For 30 years, we have been providing and maintaining values, such as honesty, sustainability, transparency, family awareness, tradition and health. These are all slogans, which unfortunately have been used and abused by countless others.”
But the family business is fighting against this. “We have begun delivering and we won’t be dependent on anyone,” says Sanzio. Laiseacker is always striving to fill these “hollow phrases” with deeds: ethically correct for both people and nature, ecological and fair trade. This is Tabea Sanzio claim: “to preserve nature and cultivate healthy vegetables, while avoiding monocultures but instead preserving today’s diversity in the fields, to remain a direct marketer and a family business and not to become a victim of large corporations.”
Today, the family business employs 75 people, the majority of them part-time. “This way our employees can combine work and family.” Anyway the company is just like a big family. “The work includes many areas: plant nursery, packing boxes, farm shop and office work,” recounts Sanzio and, of course, the deliveries to the customer. “We supply between 600 and 700 customers a day. A customer can order between one and 20 boxes.” Early in the morning, the crates are individually filled with organic products according to the customer’s order. “Each product is tested by hand, examined and viewed – only then does it go to the customer,” says the young entrepreneur. Then the Sprinter fleet delivers the crates to customers in the south-west of Germany.
Because the orders vary from week to week, the dispatchers and drivers plan each tour individually. The special feature: despite the fact that the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has to travel long distances, every van drives an average of 0.9 kilometers to each customer. “This is much less than if all of our 3,200 customers went to regional organic farmers to do their shopping,” reports the young mother. “We are very proud of this number and we encourage those who are interested in not being deterred by the word ‘deliver’.” On the contrary, “delivering can also be good for the environment.”
With the Sprinter everything fits, the driving comfort and equipment are just perfect.
Laiseacker owns nine vans with the star. “The tours and vehicles are fundamental to our business,” says Sanzio. “Everything has to fit just right: the vehicles must be reliable; the fruits, vegetables as well as milk and meat must be freshly delivered to the customer and that over the shortest possible distance– in order to be as environmentally friendly as possible.” The choice was therefore Mercedes-Benz and the Sprinter with the appropriate cooling systems. Tabea Sanzio explains: “with the Sprinter everything fits, the driving comfort and equipment are just perfect.”