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Farm Stop Collective Bloomington: Supporting regional farmers and food systems



Bloomington, Indiana – Almost everything at Bloomington Farm Stop Collective is grown in Indiana, so you can purchase and enjoy freshly brewed tea from the cafe while perusing a selection of seasonal veggies, eggs, and honey. The Kirkwood Avenue grocery store is unique in more ways than one.

A farmer by trade, Bobbi Boos also manages the farm stop’s store. When the BFSC opens in 2021, it will function as an agricultural cooperative, with about 50 farmers owning the business. But, as Boos pointed out, the figure is always fluctuating. Farmers can have more control over their products when they sell at the farm stop.

“They get to deliver when they feel like, or when it’s convenient,” Boos said. “The goal is for them to have time on their farms, to make it as feasible as possible for the farms. They deliver what they want. They grow what they want. They set their own prices.”

According to Boos, the merchandise offered in the store is consigned. This implies that farmers who sell at the BFSC will keep 70% of their earnings. For every retail dollar spent on food, farmers typically receive 15 cents, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The farm stop supports more than 100 local companies by selling their products in-store. This includes food and craft entrepreneurs. Ash Teng, a board member of the Bloomington Farm Stop Collective and a farm vendor, stated that there are no predetermined requirements for which vendors can sell at the BFSC.

“We do really appreciate transparency in how their growing practices are,” Teng said. “Whether they till, or no-till, whether they use organic fertilizer, some pesticides, cover cropping – all these practices that sequester carbon and make it more sustainable for growing.”

Teng gestured to a sizable sign that was hung up inside the shop. Readers can examine each farm in more detail to see details about its procedures and methods. Every product in the store has a label that states the farm and city of origin. Just a little over a three-hour journey away in Ashkum, Illinois, is Janie’s Mill Flours, where you can get the only items that weren’t created in Indiana.

The Bloomington Farm Stop Collective observes a growing number of new farmers joining the local food economy and feels that Bloomington has a sizable agricultural community for a town of its size. Teng stated that the farm stop welcomes newcomers and is always open.

“That’s one of the benefits of having this farm stop,” Teng said. “New, beginning farmers who are interested but perhaps in need of a bigger outlet to make an economic, sustainable business, they can join here, and they can ask for sponsorship. We’ll waive their membership fee, which is normally $300 for all our members. We do scholarships to encourage the next generation of farmers. We want small farmers to come together and support the local food system.”

The Bloomington Farm Stop Collective is committed to helping community consumers and increasing the accessibility of locally and sustainably grown food, in addition to assisting local farmers. Teng reported that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Food Program delivered $48,000 worth of locally grown food from the BFSC in 2023.

“We want something that is convenient, that’s accessible and that we can support local farmers at the same time. The big difference is being able to provide fresh, health food seven days a week and also double up SNAP benefits.”

The Bloomington Farm Stop Collective and the Farm to Family Fund have partnered to match all SNAP benefits up to their full value, making every $1 spent on SNAP worth $2 at the BFSC. Unlike a regular farmers market, the farm stop is open seven days a week, so fresh, local food is accessible every day of the week.

In addition to consignment, the BFSC features an in-store cafe where customers can purchase a variety of locally produced and crafted teas, coffees, and foods. The spacious sitting room serves as a hub for community activities, providing a venue for farmers to interact, local clubs to convene, and the farm stop to host informative agricultural and gardening programs, such as seed exchanges, with the assistance of volunteer farmers.

The Bloomington Farm Stop Collective is situated at 902 W. Kirkwood Ave. and is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.





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