This month’s Smarter Food focuses on an innovative coop in Wooster, Ohio called Local Roots. The carefully conceived venture solves many of the issues faced by small farmers and foodies who love them.
Here’s how it works: The coop rents shelf space to local farmers for the bargain price of $10 a month. They drop off once or twice a week. But, unlike at a farmers market, they don’t have to stand there and sell their wares. Instead, customers shop as they would at a grocery store. They can buy milk from grass-fed cows, eggs, locally baked walnut bread and produce from dozens of farmers but still check out at a single cash register, using cash, a check, a credit card, even food stamps.
Launched two years ago in a renovated warehouse off Wooster’s main drag, the market is thriving. On a recent visit, the shelves were stocked with potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, arugula, nine varieties of apples, grass-fed milk, jam, maple syrup and locally milled flour. And this is the slow season.
Let’s hope this savvy model catches on elsewhere.