Tired of corporations taking over the organic food movement and squeezing local retail? This project uses ol' fashioned Midwestern collaboration to strike back!
The Lida Farm Stand at Manna Co-op is a collaborative project between a retail food co-op, an organic vegetable grower, and some of his fellow local farmers and artisans. Ryan Pesch, propietor of Lida Farm, sees this farmer-run farm stand as a hot new way to reach customers and build a community space in Detroit Lakes. The combination of a start-up food cooperative and a set of local farmers and artisans will be a powerful force.
About the Farm Stand
The stand is already commissioned and is currently being constructed near Aldrich MN by a team of Amish timber framers. Their experience in turning farm-hewn timbers into a solid building will create an good impression off Highway 34 and attract residents and passers-by. The building will be 12' x 24' with board and batton siding and a front wall which opens up so as to create 2 market stalls.
We will also use Kickstarter funds to construct a patio space with a simple arbor to supply seating space adjacent the farm stand to make this marketspace more inviting to the community. Our hope is this will invite in neighbors to stay a while and help tie in this space to the store and complement the co-op's deli.
Why Lida Farm and why Now?
To be clear on roles, Lida Farm is the initiator of this project and own the farm stand, but the structure will be hosted at Manna Food Co-op on the Northside of Detroit Lakes.
Lida Farm knows farm stands. We set up our first at the farm nearly 10 years ago and have operated two others in partnership with other organizations (one at Falls Baking in Fergus Falls and one at the Essentia cafeteria in Detroit Lakes).
In the current food environment, we've found that people are attracted to farm stands in a way they haven't been before. Maybe because of their authentic nature or because nothing says 'reality' like a farm stand when you're been looking at a screen all day. They are a tangible slice of Americana!
Why do this at the Co-op?
The big idea is to form a partnership. Lida Farm will use the farm stand every week in season and we feel this will work really well to connect with the many customers we have grown in and around Detroit Lakes over the past 15 years.
Since Lida Farm will be at farm stand will only one day a week, isn't it great that our veggies can be purchased at the co-op when we're not there? Also, isn't it also nice to stop next door and pick up lunch or some organic bananas when you stop at the farm stand? We think that this combination of a retail storefront featuring natural and organic foods plus a farm stand will be great for customers and farm stand operators alike.
Also, since we have only so much time ourselves to man a farm stand each week, the best idea is to open it up to others and make it a collaborative marketspace. The co-op is the best partner to coordinate the use of the stand in large part because co-op staff already works with over 40 local farmers and artisans and a large part of their mission is to showcase and help support local producers.
Risks and challenges
This is a fairly straightforward project, although any project has risks.
The big risk is organizational. Our vision is that the farm stand will be used every day of the week by our fellow farmers and artisans, however, it takes time to get people to start using a resource. It will take some effort to organize our fellow producers to start using the stand to sell their products and work out a schedule. Having co-op staff on site and already being in communication with many local producers will help overcome this organizational and coordination challenge.
The second risk relates to zoning. An initial conversation with the city planners has us believe that this work will not be an issue, but we must put in a zoning application and have our site ok'd before we construct the patio and arbor. This could slow up that part of the project, but we have the application ready for submittal now well before the summer season. The farm stand is simplier because it's a non-permanent structure and not construction.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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