The local foods movement is growing every day. In 2004 there were 3,706 farmer’s markets in the United States. Fast forward to 2013 and there is a total of 8,144 farmer’s markets across the country. Chef Dan Barber, a longtime proponent of the local foods movement recently published The Third Plate, an exceptional book promoting a new approach to local foods systems. With the opening of our “mother store” Local Roots in Wooster, OH in 2010 a whole new world of opportunity opened up for farmers and consumers. The idea of a year-round farmer’s market operating on a consignment basis and offering a full range of food products was a unique concept for the local foods movement. The twin successes of Local Roots and The Wild Ramp have inspired others to find ways to create local foods markets in their own communities. All Things Local in Amherst, MA opened in November 2013 and operates as a cooperative. Local Roots Ashland is an affiliate market of Local Roots Wooster. There is also a group in Forest Grove, OR working to open a local foods market there (with our very own Beth Rankin among the organizers).
Bill Brinkerhoff, Kathy Scott, and Scott Fleck of Ann Arbor, MI were inspired by Local Roots and began researching the needs of their community and connecting with producers in their area. Their local foods market, Argus Farm Stop, will open this August and will offer baked goods, dairy, meats, produce, and artisan products such as goat’s milk soaps. The store will open in what was once a gas station and is located in the historic Old West Side District. The original garage doors will be opened when weather permits to welcome customers into the market. Another fun touch is the corn that is growing on the roof of the store. This rooftop endeavor, as well as the ongoing renovations, has garnered a lot of attention from locals in this very walkable neighborhood. Community and business support has been overwhelmingly positive. “We have received amazing support from local stores,” says owner Kathy.
While modeled on Local Roots, the owners of Argus have adjusted the organization of their market to match their vision and to meet the unique requests of their community. The store will operate as a Low-Profit Limited Liability Company (L3C). This designation bridges the gap between for-profit and nonprofit organizations. As a hybrid is combines the legal flexibility of a for-profit business with the social benefits of a nonprofit organization. Education and community involvement are two important aims of the owners and they plan to work with local schools so that children in their area have the opportunity to learn about whole foods. Argus has partnered with some producers to serve as a pick-up location for already existing Community Supported Agriculture programs. An espresso bar will add an extra business component and help foster a “stop by and stay a while” atmosphere, similar to the partnership between The Wild Ramp and Broken Coffee Mug. The market will operate on consignment model with 80% of the sale price going back to the producer. Currently all producers are located within a 40-mile radius of Ann Arbor.
We look forward to following the progress of Argus Farm Stop and wish Bill, Kathy, and Scott the best of luck as they continue their journey into the world of local foods! You can follow them on Facebook by clicking here.