Founder and owner, Casco Bay Organics
Two years ago, when Jillian Hilton was in the midst of moving back to Maine from California, where there is an abundance of affordable organic produce that is easily accessible, she had what she called a “light-bulb moment.”
“I was at a farmers market every single day, and I loved it,” said Hilton, 33. “I saw the opportunity and the necessity, really, to bring back to Maine the option of flexible and organic produce delivered right to your doorstep.”
Hilton, a former bartender and a “foodie at heart,” is the founder and owner of Casco Bay Organics in Portland, which buys 100 percent certified organic fruits and vegetables from Maine farms and delivers it to homes, schools and other businesses in the Greater Portland area.
“As a woman-owned and woman-run company, I am proud that I was able to do that,” Hilton said of her business, established in April 2013.
She said because she has developed close relationships with various Maine farmers, “we are able to give our customers a little bit of each farm.”
“Before Casco Bay Organics, I was slinging cocktails in the Bay Area,” said Hilton.
When she made her trek back to Maine, however, she really wanted to start a project she could sink her teeth into.
“When the opportunity to build Casco Bay Organics came to me, I was super psyched.”
A longtime mentor and friend, who recently died after a long battle with cancer, was also an inspiration behind Hilton’s decision to start Casco Bay Organics, she said.
Even when she was ill, the friend would inspire others around her to consume fresh, organic products, Hilton said, and had a supportive group of friends who would deliver produce to her when she needed it.
“I knew I had to get back (to Maine) and do whatever I could,” to deliver organic fruits and vegetables to folks in need, said Hilton. “A lot of my customers, as we speak, have cancer and count on my deliveries every week.”
In addition to food, Casco Bay Organics delivers an item of the week to nonprofits, schools and other organizations, said Hilton, such as gloves or socks to the Preble Street Resource Center. According to Hilton, Casco Bay Organics donates its leftover produce to various food pantries, the Center for Grieving Children, the Animal Refuge League and more.
“We are trying to give back to the community as much as we can,” Hilton said.
Hilton also blogs about the importance of eating organic produce, shares recipes and gives advice about how to make fresh produce last longer.
Not only does Hilton “feel strongly” about eating healthy, she also loves making organic food accessible and affordable for everyone.
“Times are tough, and people shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health because they can’t afford it,” Hilton said. Her vision, she said, “is to bring the farm to your doorstep.”
Hilton said she is passionate about delivering organic produce and hopes that through her business she can educate others about the benefits of eating organically.
She is proud of the fact that every week, she gets to bring people “awesome organic food,” she said. “My mission is to make it affordable.”