Right after I graduated from college, I moved to Washington, DC for a year. I lived in a great neighborhood with cool restaurants and easy metro access, but there was one problem. The closest grocery store was about two miles away, and it was nowhere near a metro. Like many Washington residents I had no car and so was faced with the choice of either walking, paying a cab driver, or having lower quality food delivered to my door for a higher cost. Such “food deserts” – areas where residents have little to no access to affordable, healthy foods – are a growing problem across the country.
If only the Farmery had existed in my small neighborhood.
Located in Durham with plans for Raleigh, the Farmery is an urban market founded by Matt Greene. “The idea is relatively simple,” writes Maggie Rice for EcoWatch, “bring vegetable production, harvest and distribution together in a single location, right in the middle of town.” Produce is grown on every inch of the Farmery, using “repurposed shipping containers and greenhouse implements.” Right now the customers can harvest their own produce, whether that be mushrooms, strawberries, or herbs, but Greene has plans for a grocery and café for the customers who merely want to shop.
The Farmery not only provides easy access to fresh, organic produce; it also lowers the price. The costs of transportation are high, and often fruits and vegetables are lost through shipping. With transportation costs largely out of the picture, The Farmery can sell their fruits and veggies for a lower price while still maintaining a high profit margin. The best part? “Because the produce is only picked once the customer has made a purchasing decision,” Rice writes, “loss of product all but disappears.”
Greene dreams of touching everyone of all socio-economic backgrounds with his concept. When the grocery store itself is launched, Greene hopes to found a non-profit attached to it “to make food stamps worth double (face value) in our grocery stores.”
Through their current operations and future plans, Greene, the Farmery, and its staff hope to forge a true “farm-to-table experience, which has rarely been attainable for people living outside of rural settings.” Fresh, affordable, and right down the block? Sounds like something every city should have!
TLC applauds Greene’s innovation, and we will continue to support other urban innovators like him through our Local Farms and Food program, in addition to supporting rural farms and their heritage.