Challenge 10: Bus to Table Tours

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For Challenge 10, we decided to create a sustainable foods tour service: Bus to Table Tours. This was first inspired by the historical tours of Boston. Originally we were interested in creating a food tour to go along with the Freedom Trail, but that market seemed already saturated and perhaps a bit small as it would be mostly aimed at tourists who may not want to spend more of their limited time in Boston on an extended version Freedom Trail. With this in mind, and advice from Scott of Scott’s Pizza Tours to create a very specific product, we decided to create a tour focused on local, sustainable food sources. Interest in local and sustainable foods has been on the rise lately, but there are few tours that really address this market and educate people on some of the best ways to use local foods.

The basic idea of the tour is simple: travel to different farms around and near Boston on our tour bus, taste local sustainable foods, and pick up ingredients to make your own meal back at our cooking lab. The tours come in two different varieties: a family-friendly tour and an adult tour. The family-friendly tour is focused on kids and kid-friendly recipes like cheddar apple grilled cheeses and baby kale salads. It works to get kids interested in local, healthy foods by showing them how they can make great meals. It also is intended for to be taken by both children and their parents, so that the skills and values being imparted are not communicated just to an audience of children who can’t always act upon this familiarity with eating locally. Instead, the tour hopes to get the children excited as a motivator for the more actionable parents, who will see this enthusiasm, as well as the skills we communicate, and work to better theirs and their kids eating habits.

The young adult tour is a bit more fun-focused. The first stop is a local brewery: we picked Aeronaut in Somerville as it fits nicely with our farm stops and everything is brewed in house. The tour will pick up some beers for the road and get going. Though it too will be educational and promote local eating, there is more of a focus on a social experience for tour participants. This conception of the tour plays more into the trope of culinary tourism, which pairs traditional tour formats with the “sightseeing” of food. This tour is less motivated by bettering the lives of one’s children, and more by a desire to have fun and learn more about food.

The tour will partner with many local farms: we will purchase ingredients from them on the tour in exchange for tours and tastings for our tour participants. All of our partners will be listed in an end of tour recipe book which will not only list what farms ingredients came from, but also where they can be purchase in and around Boston. While there will be many different partners (to account for season farming changes and multiple tour recipe options), one example tour route is listed below:

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A sample front/back shot of the card participants on the tour would receive.

Apple-Cheddar Grilled Cheeses:
Aeronaut Brewery (adult tour only)
The Food Project’s Dorchester Farms (apples)
ReVision Urban Farm (kale)
Fiore Di Nonno (cheese)
Mariposa Bakery (bread)

These farms and local bakeries are within reasonable distance from Boston, enabling the tour and cooking experience to be a little over 3 hours. While traveling between locations, passengers will be able to watch cooking videos on TV screens on the seats in front of them. These videos will cover what else can be made with the foods they are picking up and recipe tricks and tips for the cooking session at the end of the tour. Busses will also ideally be outfitted with refrigerator or insulating units so that dairy products and other more perishable/heat-sensitive items can be transported without fear of spoiling.

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A sample of how an everyday bus might be slightly augmented to suit the needs of the Bus to Table Tour.

Because of our educational focus, we hope to bring the kids version of the tour to local elementary schools. While some schools may be able to afford the tours as a class trip, we recognize that not every school we want to reach will be able to. A main advertising point of the tour (both for the adults and the parents on the family-friendly tour) will be that their participation in the tour will help fund local, underprivileged elementary schools participate in the tour and learn about healthy, sustainable food options. With this in mind, the price point of the tour will be higher for non-school groups, and we hope to provide free tours to underprivileged school districts. This kind of dual pricing model also leverages what is already a pricier market (tourism, and specifically culinary tourism) for a greater communal benefit. While these factors may result in a slightly higher price point for our tour compared to another tour of comparable length, the differential to the higher-paying clients will be made up for by the moral and charitable gains inherent in our tour model as a whole.

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