Thanksgiving and food: roundup in honor of Thanksgiving, Part 1
1. Happy thanksgiving!
City officials said having a branch of Aldi, which is known for low prices, will help meet several needs.
Local markets are important for a lot of farmers. ERS finds that a whopping 40 percent of all vegetable, fruit and nut farms in the United States sell their products in local and regional markets. Nearly 110,000 farms across the nation are engaged. Some of these same farms are also selling into national or international markets.
For all of these farms, local markets are key to their bottom line. On average, these farms reported that local food sales accounted for 61 percent of their total sales. Almost two-thirds of the producers, regardless of size, reported that local food sales were at least seventy-five percent of their total sales!
The market for local foods goes well beyond direct-to-consumer sales. ... Combined, intermediated and direct local food sales totaled nearly $5 billion in 2008. Intermediated sales were three times larger than direct-to-consumer sales – so in other words, farm sales to regional distributors, grocers and restaurants are a big piece of the local food picture.
Local doesn’t necessarily mean small. Farms selling locally run the gamut from small to large – those with gross sales under $50,000 to those grossing over $250,000. Large farms are more likely to sell to restaurants, distributors and retailers than are small farms, and direct-to-consumer sales are evenly split between small, midsized and large farms.
Local means jobs. One out of every twelve jobs in the U.S. is associated with agriculture, and local food plays a role in that. The ERS report finds that fruit and vegetable farms selling into local and regional markets employ 13 fulltime workers per $1 million in revenue earned, for a total of 61,000 jobs in 2008. In comparison, fruit and vegetable farms not engaged in local food sales employed 3 fulltime workers per $1 million in revenue.
Mariposa has been operating out of a small storefront at 4726 Baltimore since the 1970s. In January 2012 Mariposa will open an expanded store at 4824 Baltimore Avenue that will be five times the size of the current location. “Just the opening of the expanded Mariposa Food Co-op will dramatically improve access to healthy food in our West Philadelphia neighborhood,” said Peter Collopy, Mariposa’s convener. “This is one more way we’re working to make sure there are no barriers to joining and taking advantage of Co-op membership.”
Mariposa is much like any other grocery store, offering a full range of food and household products. There is one big difference, however. Mariposa is owned and operated by its members, the people who shop there. There are no annual membership fees or dues. Instead, Mariposa requires a one-time, refundable capital investment of $200 per member called “member equity.” The Co-op currently has 1100 members but expects to exceed 2000 members by the end of the first year in the new space. Mariposa aims to raise $20,000, or enough to cover 100 subsidized memberships, before beginning administration of the fund.
While Mariposa’s new location will allow non-members to shop, members will receive sizable discounts on all Co-op purchases. Members can also place special orders through the Co-op’s suppliers, take advantage of in-store promotions, and actively participate in the operations and governance of the Co-op.
“The $200 member investment, even though it’s fully refundable and we offer payment plans, is still a financial barrier for many potential members,” said Chakka Reeves, Mariposa’s Marketing and Outreach Coordinator, and the store’s newest hire. “We don’t want money to ever be a barrier to joining.”
Mariposa Food Co-op will use the Revolving Equity Fund to subsidize all or part of a member’s equity for the duration of a membership. When an individual ends their membership in the Co-op the equity designated to them would not leave with them, but rather go back into the fund to be assigned to a new qualifying member.
6. Canadian Geographic Magazine has a story, COMMUNITY GARDENS, Cultivating communities: How community gardens are growing on Toronto's public housing projects" about community gardens at public housing projects.
While it's not the same thing exactly, years ago a public housing dweller in DC grew crops on land at his housing project and sold the items he grew. He was charged with a crime, misuse of public resources.
But there is no reason that community gardens, orchards, and other urban agriculture initiatives shouldn't be part of public housing projects and other civic assets, even with the possibility of income generation for the participants.