The Founder of MilkRun Is Awash in Demand for Eggs and Berries

Julia Niiro is on a mission to save family farms.

Puget Crimson strawberries, fresh picked from a farm in Molalla in early June. (Thomas Teal)

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

Julia Niiro is an entrepreneur in an enviable position. She runs a business that has enjoyed astounding growth over the past six weeks.

The charismatic founder of MilkRun, Niiro, 34, connects local farmers to Portland customers with a grocery delivery service, bypassing big stores and cutting out middlemen. The business started in 2017—but it's since Oregon started staying home that Niiro has witnessed strong gains. "We've had 11 times growth over six weeks," says Niiro, a digital marketer in a previous life.

Strengthening the connection between consumers and local farmers is not just a business opportunity for Niiro, who lives on a 40-acre farm in Canby. It's also part of a mission to save the family farm. (Farm bankruptcy rates grew 20 percent nationally in 2019, according to federal court data.)

In this interview, Niiro, a graduate of the Portland Incubator Experiment who has raised venture money for MilkRun, explains why she thinks her company will continue to grow (including other markets) after people start leaving their homes again and return to normalcy.

She also tells us which food Oregonians most crave when they're stuck at home.

(Correction: In the video, the interviewer implies that every Farmers' market is closed. In fact several, including Hillsdale and Portland Farmers, are open.)

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