Anatomy of a Delivery

Anatomy of a delivery

Hello Market Friends:This week, we invite you behind the scenes at the market depot, to find out how our logistics team tackles one of the biggest challenges of running the market online: how to safely and quickly get delivery orders to our customers.There’s a problem that was formulated in 1930 which is still discussed in computer science courses today called the Travelling Salesperson problem. For our purposes, let’s call it the Market Delivery Captain problem. It goes something like this:Given a list of destinations and the distances between each pair of destinations, what is the shortest possible route that visits each destination exactly once and returns to the starting point?

Jens with crates at depot

Here’s Jens retrieving a few crates. Keeping vendors crates, bins, and cartons separated and organized can be just as hard as mapping routes, but back to delivery!

If you ask my husband (aka Mr. Math) he will be delighted to explain (at considerable length) that the Market Delivery problem belongs to a class known as NP-complete, which basically means it’s a problem for which there is no simple solution. Fortunately, this problem has been intensively studied, so although you may be imagining the mysterious interior of the market depot looking like a supercomputer lab, we actually just use cell phones to map out the best circuits. However, optimizing routes is only one aspect of our mission.
Izak running with box of mother dough bread

Inventory Captain Izak, hoarding all of Motherdough’s warm-to-the-touch fresh baked bread to himself!

First, we have to get our (frequently washed) hands on the inventory of about 38 vendors, including the earlybirds who wait for Inventory Captain Izak to open up at 7 am (Hi Nacho!), the unpredictables (will that be arriving Wednesday or Thursday Ruth?), and the (cough–occasionally–ahem) late arrivers (Rafael! You made it!). Then we count everything literally from soup to nuts. This is when we find out that there is a lonely pile of cabbages in Indy Kooner’s driveway that didn’t get on the truck, or that Carole’s multigrain loaves didn’t meet her high standards this morning.When inventory is complete we summon the whole crew outside for our weekly meeting. This is mainly a list of things to watch out for: yes, there really are 5 sizes of Holly and Ed’s sweet potatoes! 
Kristi in depot with green garlic

Delivery Captain Kristi, rightful heir to the Organic Throne, rightful Queen of the Greenbelt, and the Urban Farm, Protector of the Postal Codes, the Mother of Dragons (we suspect), the Khaleesi of the Great Green Garlic, the Unfrazzled, the Breaker of Cardboard Boxes.

Our elite squad of pickers and packers knows that the first orders need to get out the door early or the last ones will arrive in the moonlight! We have four stalwart drivers: Jay “Sr”Jay “Jr”, Jonathan, and Lisa.

Jonathan, who is known for his photos taken along the way, just celebrated a year of driving for us, and Jay “Sr.” Brodbar is not far behind.

Summer gladstone hotel picture from jonathan

Recently, to augment our team, we have formed a great relationship with nrbi, a delivery company that uses e-bikes. I love to watch these guys loading up! They use two main bike designs: the Triobike and the Babboe, and some powerful human energy as well as electricity. Here’s Lucas packing the Babboe, which can carry up to 200 kg!

Nrbi collage packing bike

My favourite moment in the elaborate jigsaw required to fit several mega-orders in was when Lucas checked the height of the stalk of Brussels Sprouts to see if he could still close the hatch!When the last load goes out, we breathe a collective sigh of relief, and then start watching and worrying about any messages that come back telling tales of trouble. Our whole crew tries very hard to minimize errors, and we are constantly fine-tuning our systems. We are the first to admit that we are not perfect, though, and we really appreciate customers who understand that we are partners in this community endeavour, not Amazon staff. Cheers to a hard days work!

Rowan summer rhubarb cocktail syrup shaker outside

Rowan, who revolutionized delivery operations during the summer and still keeps the wheels greased part-time, showing off his home-made rhubarb cocktail syrup to the team.

We should give a nod to all of you who pick up your orders, and the methods you have developed for getting them home safely. Here’s a dandy custom cart designed by one of our regulars, Chloe. It can be adapted for her rabbit to ride along too! Nicely done!
Chloe pickup cart bunny

On to what the vendors’ are offering:Buschbeck Farms has a great selection of lamb to make hearty meals for chilly nights, and woolens to keep you cozy on chilly days!Whether you want stalks, towers, or baskets of Brussels Sprouts, The Greenhouse Eatery and Marvellous Edibles have got you covered. Lots of squash to choose from, too!Kooner Organics has a huge harvest of fresh cauliflower, a vegetable that can pretend to be rice, flour or potatoes if you are so inclined, or stand out on its own.  Summergreen’s mushroom production has ended for a few months, but gardeners take note: hardy trees and shrubs need to go through a hard frost before bare-root transplanting, so Derick will have some exciting options as soon as the weather gets colder!Forbes has enough fresh wild mushrooms this week to keep all our mycophiles happy!Ta Neter Farm is back this week with Scotch Bonnet peppers (be sure you know what you are doing with these extremely hot little peppers!), eggplants, and more.Enjoy seasonal eating at its best and support our farmers and vendors! Anne & the Market CrewP.S. Once again this week we will feature a display of stained glass pieces made by the late father of market supporter Aliana Mei Hung Chan. She is offering them to anyone who makes a donation to the market! These would make great gifts or lovely additions to your home. P.P.S. Next week, Nov 11, we have another Repair Cafe dropoff day, and we will be celebrating the Market’s Birthday with CAKE! Don’t miss it!

Donated stain stained glass aliana mei hung chan

Please place your online farmers' market orders between noon on Saturday and noon on Tuesday for pickup or delivery in Toronto on Thursdays

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