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Grocery Stores: Farmers of the Future?

Grocery Stores: Farmers of the Future?
Retail
Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 8 october 2008

An article in today’s SFGate tells the interesting story of Simon Richard, the produce manager at the Mission District Bi-Rite. Taking to heart concerns his shoppers have about where the produce they buy comes from, Simon decided to start growing produce to sell at the store himself. Sam Mogannam, Bi-Rite’s owner liked the idea of taking the farm-to-table philosophy to the next step. Bi-Rite has a long standing commitment to sourcing local and seasonal produce. They are likely the first to actually grow its own food.

Last spring Richard planted several hundred seeds in his garage. Once the plants started to root, they were moved to a field in Sonoma. Over the summer vegetables such as Romano beans, arugula, and heirloom tomatoes were harvested. Richard isn’t new to farming, he spent six years on a farm in Colorado.

The homegrown produce has been a big hit with customers at the store. It has also served as an educational experience for the store staff.

Being out in the field and understanding what it’s like to farm definitely kicked up my confidence about explaining to our customers where our food comes from, said produce clerk Matt Serrecchio.

By the end of the summer, Bi-Rite’s farm had produced more than 3,500 pounds of tomatoes, 500 pounds of eggplant, 400 pounds of peppers and 200 pounds of basil. Mogannam and Richard are looking to possibly expand to a neighbor’s field next year. They are also looking at starting a produce box subscription service that would include selections of locally produced cheese and wine.

It was supposed to be an experimental year, said Richard, who describes the farm as a part-time operation. It’s a small-scale model of what you can do on a small piece of land.

[ photo via p200eric ]

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