This past month a young couple opened a small natural foods store, named Wholesome Harvest, in the town just south of us. Their premise is simple-to provide whole organic foods, leaning towards local when possible, at reasonable prices. That last piece is no joke. I had expected ,and been willing, to pay10-20% more than I do at Whole Foods due to the economies of scale, but their prices on organic stone ground flours, and most canned veggies (not much fresh here right now) were actually lower. When I commented on this, they responded that they aren’t trying to get rich, just wanting to provide nutritional foods to rural customers. Come Spring they will be using the store to market their produce from the 7 acres they farm. Nice! Until then they market a wide selection of local grass fed meats, and literally the best grass fed eggs I have seen. Stables like flour, peanut butter, and canned veggies-all organic are also available.
We got to talking, and they ended up purchasing a rain barrel for a Christmas present. Also, they have access to agricultural equipment, and expressed interest in assisting if I ever am asked to do large scale prairie restoration thru our Someday Gardens business. We will also be talking more about using their store as a retail outlet for my rainbarrels, with perhaps a model of each on hand. Their location is great. Literally on the other side of the block is the Organic Feed Store that supplies seed and sundries to the growing organic farming contingent.
I am freaky excited that I am seeing exactly what I hoped to-Green Small Business as a driver for rural growth. And it is doing so through cottage industries-all three of these businesses are offshoots of other enterprises: a large farm, a small vegetable farm, and a hobby. They are not the main income source for the families, but provide supplemental benefits. Truth be told the ability to source staples at wholesale prices, or in my case, provide a venue to upgrade to trailers and better tools, is a real economic driver behind all of these start-ups. But now the Feed Store has grown enough that they are hiring their first outside employee, thereby generating more impact into the economy. And given the growth that Wholesome Harvest is seeing on zero marketing budget in the past month they will need help soon. I am not sure Someday Gardens will ever get that big, but subcontracting out to local farmers for tractor use and mulches definitely won’t hurt things.
Filed under: Sustainable Development