Submitted by Olympia Food Co-op

When cashiering at the Olympia Food Co-op the other day, a member came through my line excited for her first cucumber of the season from a Local farm. It was so great to see her enthusiasm, that immediately I went to check out the Produce department, and found these beauties. Biting into the crispy cooling juiciness, I was determined to find all the Local produce on the shelves and make a big Local salad – delicious!

Olympia Food Co-op eastside cucumbers
Eastside Local Cucumbers. Photo courtesy: Olympia Food Co-op

Our Local Buying Program is very unique, as we buy directly from farms that are located in these specific counties: Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Pierce, and Grey’s Harbor. There is no middle distributor involved. The food is grown on the farm, and the farm delivers to us. This is how we are unique – we have a relationship with the farm, and buy from them directly.

We put a lot of care and thought into the sourcing, quality, and pricing of our Local produce. We want our members to have the very best experience they can. The foundation that helps us to support finding all of this incredible food is our mission statement:

Produce Mission Statement

We in the Produce Department believe in supporting sustainable agriculture by providing certified organic, pesticide free, and transitional produce as often as possible. Purchasing sustainably grown food contributes to the health and well being of the planet and its inhabitants. When we support practices that maintain the balance of the ecosystem, we ensure a safe and healthy food supply for ourselves and future generations.

Vision

  • educate membership about produce and the Co-op’s buying practices
  • educate ourselves about specific product uses, as well as farmer, distributor, and industry practices
  • encourage members to move beyond their usual buying habits by focusing on the aesthetics of fresh produce

Values

  • offer fair prices for locally grown or directly purchased crops
  • provide fresh organic, transitional, or pesticide free produce at an affordable price to the membership
  • support local farmers by providing as much local produce as possible
  • strive to save resources by reusing materials and reducing transportation of food
  • provide information about produce
  • stimulate the local and regional economy with our buying practices
  • demonstrate the viability of local commerce by acting as a model for bioregionalism
  • honor fresh food as a life-giving energy source that excites the senses and has healing properties

Every farm we work with is so special, we wish we could feature all of them in this article! Here is a sampling of some of the farms we work with:

Olympia Food Co-op eastside lettuce
Eastside Local Lettuce. Photo courtesy: Olympia Food Co-op

Piece by Piece

Last year, the Olympia Food Co-op’s Table magazine printed an in-depth article on Piece by Piece located in Northeast Olympia.  This small seven-acre farm provides us with very Local foods. Recently, they have brought us gorgeous white bunched turnips, collards, cucumbers, and red leaf lettuce. In late summer, watch for their popular melon: the Sun Jewel. And, they have a farm blog!

Wobbly Cart

This Rochester farm is located on a historical piece of land where the IWW barn used to be, so this is historically significant to our community and labor history. Some of the crops they grow for us include large delicious beets, beautiful slicing tomatoes, unique purple potatoes, and excellent pie pumpkins. For the crops ready today, keep an eye out for Lacinato kale, Romaine lettuce, and radishes.

Brownfield

Olympia Food Co-op westside bok choi
Westside Local Bok Choy. Photo courtesy: Olympia Food Co-op

This is one of our “Regional” farms (we still buy direct from these farms, yet they are outside of our “Local” zone) located in Chelan, Washington. We are excited to share with you Brownfield, as they are one of the first farms in Washington to be certified organic. Owners Mike and Lynne Brownfield have supported their workers in starting orchards of their own, and have helped them negotiate for better prices for their fruit. Over the years, we have enjoyed their luscious apricots, peaches, nectarines, apples, and pears. And, it has been confirmed – July 10 is the estimated delivery date of their treasured cherries!

Working to keep things fresh, the Produce Department regularly updates their website page with weekly specials. And, monthly they publish a newsletter, with interesting produce tidbits, farmer profiles and a recipe or two.

Post Script

For 40 years, the Olympia Food Co-op and our membership have supported local producers in our community. With low mark-ups for Local products, every time a purchase is made from our stores, the vendor gets most of the sale.  Everybody is welcome to shop. We have two locations, and both stores are open daily, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

 

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