Beaufort’s only source for all local and naturally produced foods is collaborating with Beaufort Memorial Hospital to provide hospital employees, volunteers and LifeFit members with convenient online access to local foods.
In operation since 2011, Sea Islands Local Outlet (SILO) is a local food hub with a unique business model that utilizes a web-based market platform, or “web-market,” to connect its customers with over 40 growers and producers — directly. Sharing similarities with a farmers market, vendors post weekly offerings and set their own prices.
Consumers simply place orders each week during web-market hours. Growers and producers receive each week’s orders via email invoice, then immediately harvest or produce what is needed to fill each respective order. Producers deliver to SILO, which in turn hand packs each customer’s individual order and then transports it to one of several pick up locations around Beaufort County.
The Beaufort Memorial Hospital campus will host SILO’s two newest pick up locations, making it more convenient for hospital staff and LifeFit members to grab their locally produced foods.
“It just seemed to make sense,” said Patrick Kelly, one of SILO’s owners. “Historically, hospitals have been synonymous with healing, but today, they are evolving into symbols of wellness. Eating healthy, locally produced food is a critical piece of overall wellness. Beaufort Memorial is making a statement both by being a model for healthier eating habits and supporting our local food system. This in turn grows a healthier local population and a healthier local economy.” added Kelly.
The hospital is not only serving as a host site for SILO’s distribution, they are financially incentivizing their employees, volunteers and LifeFit members to purchase local foods by subsidizing membership fees for SILO’s services.
Incorporating not only the farmers market model but also aspects of a community co-op grocer, SILO’s primary revenue is through a modest annual membership fee that makes direct farmer-to-customer purchase possible, without the typical retail mark-up. The food hub and the hospital came to an agreement, and were able to secure grant money that would enable the two campus pick up locations without needing to charge membership fees for the hospital and LifeFit customers.
Mark Senn is the Senior Director of LifeFit Wellness Services and has been championing SILO from the beginning.
“As a wellness center,” says Senn, “we help to educate our surrounding community on healthy living and preventative lifestyles. Consuming healthy foods is a critical part of overall health and wellness. We want to make access for our own employees, members and the community as simple as possible.”
SILO hopes to help with customer education as well by conducting classes and workshops through LifeFit that will center around the myriad benefits of a diet based on local foods. The first of these will be on Thursday, March 20 at 5:30 p.m. and will feature a free workshop on fermentation with a food preservation project that is traveling around the country.
SILO began delivering orders to Beaufort Memorial in February but hopes the workshop will serve to better inform potential customers about this unique opportunity available right in their work place and community.
The two BMH pick up options are: Tuesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Beaufort Medical Plaza; and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the new LifeFit Building. Any SILO member throughout the county can use the BMH pick up locations by simply selecting their market preference on the website before shopping.
To learn more about SILO or to sign up for online ordering, visit their webpage at www.silo-beaufort.com or stop by their shopfront in Habersham at 7A Market, Beaufort, SC 29906.
The SILO Team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 843-321-8990.