Community can often be a word people just toss around, but when the community literally owns your business, there is no taking it lightly. Oryana Community Co-op was an idea devised on the back porch of a home in Traverse City. It came from a small group of passionate community members looking to start a buying club and have control over where their food came from. That buying club started in 1973, and is now a 10,000 square foot, $17 million-a-year business that still lives by the founding principles of quality, accountability, sustainability, and localism.
Did you know that farmers receive only 17 cents per retail sales dollar (on average) when their food is sold through traditional channels? The remaining 83 cents of this dollar goes to middlemen, distributors, and other players in the food system. Selling direct to consumer (farmers markets, roadside stands, CSA programs, etc.) generates higher margins for farmers (and strengthens consumer’s ties to their food) but can come with its own set of unique challenges and risks: unfavorable weather impacting sales, large time/energy demands, lack of convenience, and seasonality.
The Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market will open its 24th year of community service on Saturday May 20th at the corner of Grand River and Grove Street in the heart of downtown Farmington at the Walter Sundquist pavilion. There is large banner gently swaying from the rafters in the light breezes of early spring that proudly proclaims, “Saturday is market day!”.