Imagine having the ability to walk into a neighborhood store on a daily basis and purchase local, regeneratively grown products direct from producers across our region. Then imagine knowing these profits went back to farms, ranches, and small business owners to continue building vibrant agricultural communities and a healthy food system for all community members and our environment.
WHO IS THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN FOOD COLLABORATIVE?
A group of ranchers, farmers, food hubs, food assistance and service providers throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Kansas, and Utah. This project is currently funded by the Gates Family Foundation through the Cooperative Development Center at Rocky Mt. Farmers Union.
Fair Price for Producers, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Strengthening Agricultural Communities, Regenerative Agriculture, Sustainable Operations & Climate Change, and Revitalizing Consumer’s Understanding of our Food System.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Lance Wheeler – Rafter W Ranch, Simla, CO, Kathryn Bedell – Roan Creek Ranch, DeBeque, CO , Valerie Smith – La Montañita Co-op, Santa Fe, NM, Katie Belle Miller, Heritage Belle Farms, Calhan, CO, and Dusty Downey, Audubon Society Conservation Ranching Lead, Moorcroft, WY
Dan Hobbs, Director of RMFU Co-op Development Center
Sandra Baca, Assistant Director of RMFU Co-op Development Center
ADDITIONAL TEAM COLLABORATORS
Valley Roots Food Hub, San Luis Valley Food Coalition, High Plains Food Cooperative, Mt. Roots Food Project, Reed Smith (Rags Consulting-Utah), Rancho Large Cattle, SiSu Farms, Badger Creek Ranch, Anna Straus (Ranch Foods Direct-Colorado Springs), Steve Warshawer, Jones Family Organics, CO Farm to Table, Guidestone Colorado, Nourish Colorado, Plus Lazy K, and Gunnison Gardens… plus many more
IDENTIFYING OUR PROBLEMS | THE CURRENT SITUATION
SOLUTION: Reinvent the old school farm/ranch market model with a public marketplace to re-establish a direct-to-consumer relationship.
YEAR ROUND PRODUCER & EMPLOYEE-OWNED MARKET: Regional and regeneratively grown produce, value-added products and dry goods with a butcher counter and cut facility
NEIGHBORHOOD & CITY PUBLIC MARKETS: Replace the individual producer booths with our market, co-located within a food hall supporting your local baker, cheesemaker, and culturally relevant food booths
OUR SOLUTION | FARM & RANCH STORES
Our farm and ranch stores will be designed as modular businesses that can be housed in public markets or food halls, as well as partner with existing small retail and pop-up markets. These marketplaces will focus exclusively on regional, regeneratively grown products purchased from Collaborative members with the recognition that each market and city will have slightly different requirements. Our publics markets will contain a small food hall and value-added businesses, such as a bakery, creamery, and charcuterie. Our goal is that in each public market or neighborhood food hall co-established by the Collaborative, small businesses housed within these public markets will purchase their ingredients from the Collaborative.
CUT FACILITY &
Collaboratively sourced products would include the following: fresh vegetables & fruit when in season, greenhouse, & cold-stored fruits and vegetables during off-season, milk, eggs, cheese & other dairy products, and local bulk dry goods such as grains, nuts, pastas, flours, and legumes.
In addition, local value-added food products, using Collaborative raw ingredients will be sold. Minimal exceptions can be made during winter and spring months to ensure the market is still stocked.
A cut-facility and butcher counter will be located within each farm/ranch store. This cut facility will receive carcasses supplied exclusively by Collaborative producers. Animals will be slaughtered near the location they were raised, and then brought to our cut facilities for aging.
The butcher counter will include marinated meats, charcuterie options and specialty cuts, as well as allow retail and wholesale customers to special order specific cuts. Business and training support will be offered to butcher members working within Collaborative facilities.
COLLABORATIVE WHOLESALE ‘ONE STOP SHOP’
INCUBATING SMALL FOOD BUSINESSES
Potential wholesale markets include institutions, restaurants, caterers, commissary kitchens, food assistance programs, member-owned grocery cooperatives and pop-up markets.
The Collaborative will provide these wholesale markets with a ‘one stop shop’ for all their local and regeneratively grown products increasing the ease at which buyers can purchase these products and ideally increasing profit margins for producers.
We welcome both established small business owners and beginning entrepreneurs to co-create each public market opportunity. Partnerships with small business owners who will operate the food hall businesses and value-added offers are vital to the success of the Collaborative.
The goal is to design each public market or neighborhood ‘mini’ public market to maximize the sharing of infrastructure from cooler space to ovens to prep stations, as well as smaller ‘viewing’ kitchen for food. In addition, identify community and city partners who will provide business owners with coaching, mentoring and start-up assistance.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN FOOD COLLABORATIVE | NEIGHBORHOOD PUBLIC MARKET CONCEPT continued
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & EDUCATION
There is great opportunity for dialogue between consumers and producers to increase culturally relevant food options, increase access to healthy food and bridge the rural – urban divide. The marketplace will serve as a living educational tool in which authentic farming and ranching stories are shared with a focus on highlighting the current challenges Collaborative producers are facing from climate change policy to drought to urbanization to pressures from an economic system designed for industrial, commodity based agricultural production. These stories can highlight how Collaborative members are reducing their social and environmental footprint while fostering healthy ecosystems and improving plant and animal biodiversity.
Food is integral to all cultures and this marketplace should be tailored to appeal to all cultures surrounding the market. A special emphasis will be placed on children and youth by providing spaces for them to learn, play and meet members of their community while their parents or elders are shopping or eating. As Winona LaDuke said, “Food for us comes from our relatives, whether they have wings or fins or roots. That is how we consider food. Food has a culture. It has a history. It has a story. It has relationships.” Let’s use this public marketspace to bridge cultural divides and re-create our communities.
PROVIDING NEIGHBORHOOD ECONOMIC & NUTRITIONAL OPPORTUNTIES
Providing economic opportunities and access to knowledge are the most proven means by which to improve the well-being of our communities. These public markets will offer entrepreneurial opportunities and support for neighbors in adjacent communities in need. Collectively co-locating increases customer traffic and visibility while reducing the need for individual brand recognition and extensive self-marketing. In addition, combining a farm/ranch store and butcher counter with value-added shops in a communal food hall setting encourages consumers to shop and enjoy a meal while fostering community connections around local food.
Our farm/ranch stores will be set up with a goal of creating a neutral space to attract both affluent and less affluent consumers with attention made on establishing Double-up Food Bucks, SNAP, EBT and other food assistance programs from both a price and user accessibility perspective. Each public market and food hall will work with local food assistance providers and member-owned cooperative grocery stores to provide food access to all community members at the greatest extent possible.
ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS AND VALUES FOR OUR OPERATIONS
- Each farm/ranch store and the overall Collaborative will strive to reach the following goals through steady annual progress:
- NET ZERO ENERGY: energy conservation measures, passive strategies, behavior, and on-site renewable energy generation
- WATER CONSERVATION & REPURPOSE: to the extent possible all grey water will be re-purposed
- SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS: materials will be sustainably sourced and adhere to the Living Building Challenges Red List of prohibited materials.
- ZERO WASTE OPERATIONS: systems will be put in place for both operators and customers. By having a central place from which the Collaborative can operate, vegetables and fruit can be packed in reusable totes, a butcher counter eliminates plastic pre-packaging from meats, and dry goods and dairy products can be packaged in reusable containers with a deposit system in place.
- TRANSPORTATION: walking, biking, and public transportation will be encouraged, and efforts to convert product transportation to electric or hydrogen will be prioritized, as well as emphasizing efficiencies through backhauling and collaboration with other partners.
NEXT STEPS | TIMELINE
In the next month, we intend to identify a location where community members and the city are interested in partnering to establish a public market or ‘mini’ public market. These interested members will make up a core team who will join Collaborative discussions and steer the public market and farm/ranch store forward. We have identified a lead for our farm/ranch cooperative store, and once our first location is identified we will begin this process. We intend to have a solid team, clear concept and business plan by May to allow us to competitively federal and state funding opportunities.
NE DENVER – EAST COLFAX
We identified the demand for local products and interest from producers in supplying Denver. However, we need to hear if this idea is something community members, decision makers, and small food business owners want to help us create.
Designed by small businesses wanting to expand and create shared equity by owning real estate. Ideally, the farm/ranch store will be operated and supplied by the Collaborative through a fixed rental agreement.
Contact: Mike Callicrate (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Anna Straus (email@example.com)
The city of Grand Junction has started a feasibility study for a city owned public market in their Los Colonias Park. This is an opportunity to bring together consumers and city members by linking them with local and regional growers through a Collaborative farm/ranch store.
ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS?
Email Margaret (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to offer suggestions for other locations or would like to be a champion for our project.