Farmbox Direct CEO shares her journey from food stamps to fashion to farming

Posted at 8:05 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 20:05:10-04

A woman who went from living off food stamps to working in the fashion industry traded that successful career to run her own company that took her back to her farming roots.

Ashley Tyrner left her successful career to start a company closer to her childhood farming roots. She's now CEO of Farmbox, which brings fresh fruits and vegetables right to your door.

“We really work to eradicate the food desert problem that America faces,” Tyrner said.

She started Farmbox Direct in 2014 with the goal of bringing more healthy options to people everywhere.

"We have different boxes," she said. "We have small, medium, large boxes. We have all fruit, mixed and then all veggie. Our most popular to begin with is always the small, mixed produce box because it has fruits and veggies and you see if that`s enough produce for your family.”

Tyrner grew up on her family's farm in southern Illinois,where locally grown food was a staple in her home.

“I can remember my father growing our sweet corn and my grandfather growing potatoes,” said Tyrner.

The CEO and single mom wants to make eating healthy easier to do because she understands how hard it can be for people who are struggling.

"When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was actually on food stamps and I learned how difficult it was to eat healthy on a food stamp budget," Tyrner said.

Tyrner moved to New York and worked her way up the corporate ladder in the fashion world. But, she left that all behind to get back to her roots when she started Farmbox Direct. Tyrner said her business has seen a surge in recent months with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

"We`ve seen a lot of kids sending this to their parents or their grandparents to keep them home," she said.

Tyrner doesn't just want to put an end to food deserts, she wants to help foster the idea of food as medicine.

"We have another new division in health care, which is Farmbox RX, where we partner with different health plans to ship the box to patients on the health plans that maybe have a diet or health related disease,” said Tyrner.

She also wants to encourage healthy eating at a young age, so she started "Harlow's Harvest" with her daughter, who serves as the CEO. Instead of food, this box comes with a cooking kit, instructions and educational material to inspire children's culinary curiosity.

"I think it`s going to do a lot of good around children`s wellness," said Tyrner.

Keeping with the “food as medicine” mission, the Farmbox Direct team is working with a RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist, to develop boxes that are based around some of the most common health related conditions in the U.S. They include boxes that are “diabetic friendly” and prevent inflammation for conditions like arthritis.

Farmbox Direct is hoping to continue growing in the future. Tyrner is currently raising a round of funding and will be onboarding two new health plans launching in January.

You can click here to learn more about Farmbox Direct and it's services.