Interview with Tristan Harris on the success of “The Crop”

3 May 2013

Harris Farm has been in the forefront of bringing us fresh produce and this time round,  they are hitting the social media scene. “The Crop” was a campaign intended to help people understand the whole farm to store process, so they can choose the freshest produce available to them. This was the world’s first social media campaign to create a fan-grown harvest. I had a chance to catch up with Tristan Harris, co-CEO of Harris Farm Markets on the success of “The Crop”.

1. Tell me more about Harris Farm

Harris Farm Markets is family owned and operated fresh food market. My dad, David Harris, started the company in 1971 with one store in Villawood. Back then it was Villawood Markets. The company was built on the belief that Australian families should have access to top quality farm fresh fruit and veg at reasonable prices. This belief is what has driven Harris Farm Markets to the 22 stores across NSW, ranging over 7,000products and servicing over 11 million customers a year.

2. I think “The Crop” was a truly innovative idea. What sparked the idea?

The need for the crop came from the notion that not many people knew where their food was coming from. The market was making a shift towards customers wanting to learn more about the field to fork process. We looked at how we could connect customers with the farms and show the full journey in its entirety.

3.What was the target audience for “The Crop”?

Yes, anyone who believes in eating fresh produce and wants to connect with the journey that their food takes every day. Harris Farm customers and non Harris Farm customers.

4. Why broccoli, leek and bok choy, specifically?

The stories behind these three were great stories that we wanted to tell. Bok Choy comes from our own Kemps Creek farm. It is farmed with traditionally Chinese methods and in stores within 18 hours of harvest. Harvest Moon in Tasmania farm broccoli and leek for us. The veg grown in Tasmania is different because of the environment it is grown in. These stories are behind the scenes that we wanted to share. As we are also wanting to give insight into the farming process. We had to also select veg that was available at this time of the year. It is not as simple as selecting any vegetable. We needed something that could grow out of the dirt in a relatively short time (3 months) so we couldn¹t use fruit There¹s a lot more that goes into it which in itself is an insight to the farming process.

5. Do you see The Crop expanding to other vegetables or fruits?

Definitely. It all depends on whether customers take to “The Crop” and want more but we can see a variety of fruit and vege that we can use in the future basing it on seasonality. That is one thing we wanted to teach our customers is to eat according to the seasons and eat the seasons bests.

6. Do you have a have your own vege patch?

Yes I grow strawberries which are small but very sweet, eggplant, chillies, herbs and a cherry tomato plant that is currently putting out so much fruit that I nearly need to move out of the kitchen.

7. How do you encourage apartment dwellers to grow their own crop?

We sell herb pots and during the right season other F&V plants like tomatoes, chilli, eggplant, strawberries etc (now you can see where I bought my vege patch seedlings!) individually any of these can be grown on a balcony. It is actually a lot easier that you might think ­ except coriander which I manage to kill every time.

8.  What are the three tips you can offer for any novice who want to start their own crop?

Water, water and water. Almost every time a crop has failed for me it is when I let it go without water for a while. Good drainage of the soil should ensure the plants don¹t drown when they are watered every day.

To visit Harris Farm on facebook, click here.