By Patrick Brooks
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Live Green, a new company that allows customers to purchase organic food products online at wholesale prices, used last week’s Earth Day to launch in Baltimore.
Heather McDade, Pat Welsh and Erin Welsh, all Baltimore residents, and Tom Wood, a Florida resident, started the company over two years ago.
Live Green pre-launched in February in Florida, and the team has since been working with coders and developers to gather feedback, workout all the kinks, and get the online market exactly how they want it.
“Our online market has been open for sales since February, so people have already started using it,” McDade said. “But this weekend is when we’re officially coming out to the world and saying, ‘Hey check us out, we exist,’ and we’re rolling out all the final pieces of the programming puzzle.”
The purpose of the events last weekend in Baltimore were two-fold. First, to bring the company’s team of almost 150 people – mostly salesman – together for the launch to get everyone motivated and excited, and secondly, to train new individuals who may be interested or excited to join the organization.
“We really want to get people excited,” Welsh said. “While we do offer individuals the opportunity to purchase a membership to our online market, we also have a team of people who are trying to sell memberships and make money, so we want them to be trained in how to go about that most successfully.”
The company specializes in bringing companies that make organic natural products together into one online marketplace where customers can then buy those goods are reduced prices.
On April 21, Live Green kicked off the weekend with a free general overview of the company at the Hilton in Baltimore, along with drinks and a band. Saturday featured the company’s first annual 5k Earth Day run in the Inner Harbor, followed by training and classes in the afternoon so people could preview new updates and enhancements to the site.
The events concluded on Sunday the 23rd with more training sessions in the morning, followed by a luncheon, and a boat tour of the harbor to finish the weekend.
A 2015 study conducted by the John’s Hopkins Center for a Livable Future found that 1 in 4 Baltimoreans live in a food desert.
The study defined a food desert as an area where the distance to a supermarket or supermarket alternative is more than a quarter-mile away, the median household income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, over 30 percent of households have no vehicle available, and the average Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI) score for all food stores is low.
It’s a problem that affects many major cities in the Northeast and the Rustbelt.
However, over the last 10 years Baltimore has seen a drastic rise in the number of people directly around the city – like Live Green – who every day are changing the way the city gets it’s produce.
“If you really want to create an impact in these neighborhoods you need to create jobs,” said JJ Reidy, the founder of Urban Pastoral. “There’s a hierarchy of needs, and for a lot of people they have no real income, so they look for the cheapest nourishment they can find, not the healthiest.”
Like Live Green, Urban Pastoral, a company founded in 2016 with the mission of revitalizing old rundown buildings in Baltimore for the purpose of producing natural produce and creating jobs through hydroponic farming, is working every day to create healthier options for local residents.
“We’re already looking to bring on and hire new people from the area, and the more products we bring on and jobs we create the greater our local impact will be,” McDade said. “Plus, people can purchase natural products from our site for cheaper than what you might find at even Walmart.”
“Today is just the beginning,” said Chip Bartley, one of the founding affiliates for Live Green. “This company will have millions of users just like Amazon Prime, and what you’re seeing today is the foundation of all that.”