As summer approaches, it seems like a good time to talk about the complete and utter travesty of most grocery store produce sections.
How do we live in a state known for agriculture and we can’t get that locally grown produce in our stores? I know there are great tomatoes being grown within an hour’s drive of my house, but we’re mostly stuck with tomatoes that were picked before they were ripe in a different state or country and trucked over long miles to disappoint our taste buds.
That’s the problem Matt Burch and Chelsea Simpson, co-owners of Urban Agrarian, are solving every day. And they could use your help with the next step.
Urban Agrarian isn’t only raising money through Kickstarter, but the money they’re raising there is vital to its future.
Urban Agrarian is opening a second retail location, this time in downtown Edmond (1 E. Main St.). They are continuing to run a food hub in the Farmers Market District — a place where they bring produce from local farms to be sold to consumers. They run a certified kitchen there.
These are conduits from farm to table that are rarely seen anywhere in the country. And while farmers markets are wonderful, they are also impractical. Farmers need more than one day a week to earn money for their crops. And they also need to be on the farm, doing the work to grow and harvest the next batch of produce.
Consumers need more than one day to buy locally grown produce. And if the day they’re shopping isn’t a farmers market day, they’re going to turn to that same disappointing batch of grocery store produce.
Urban Agrarian acts as both a retail shop and a clearinghouse. Farmers don’t have to stand and sell all day. Customers don’t have to plan their shopping around the farmers’ schedules, nor walk around paying several different people instead of checking out once.
That said, of course it’s expensive to set all of this up. The Kickstarter is addressing some unexpected costs that are hard to find investors to cover. So, since this is a store dedicated to bringing people close to their food, it makes sense to ask them to buy-in and take some ownership of the store.
“There’s been so much community interest and support and people who want to help” that creating a Kickstarter just made sense, Simpson said.
“When we nearly shut down last year, we heard from the community how important Urban Agrarian is, not just customers, but to farmers across the state,” she said.
This is an economic engine for Oklahoma, sustaining farmers with good prices for their crops and providing the best in locally grown produce and meat to the people who desperately want it.
The perks for the Kickstarter are bonkers, by the way. You’re getting a lot for what you’re putting in: boxes of seasonal produce, tickets to the Farm to Table dinners (one of my favorite local events), a sampler of local grass-fed lamb or beef, all the way up to a dinner party catered by Urban Agrarian with fresh, local, seasonal, exceptionally awesome produce.
It’s a lot, but there’s four days left to raise about $10,000. I’m scraping together my pennies to help out. You might want to do the same.