Our mission is to grow our local agricultural economy. How? By providing a place where local farms can sell locally-grown produce and other goods conveniently to consumers! Year round!
Here are some facts about our current food system
Here in Washtenaw County, MI, we are at risk of losing the capability to produce food locally.
According to the 2012 USDA Agricultural Census: (fun fact: the 2017 USDA Agricultural Census comes out in late February 2019!)
93% of our local farms producing food have disappeared since 1950.
The five year survival rate of new farms is < 50% . The average farmer age is 58 years, and increasing. Once farms and farming skills are lost, they are extremely difficult to replace.
Farmers on average receive only 15 cents on the retail sales dollar when selling through traditional channels. Middlemen and distributors take the remaining 85 cents.
Only 0.3% of food is purchased directly from producers through channels such as farmers markets and CSAs. These direct outlets foster direct connections with farmers so consumers can know who grows their food. Direct sales generates higher margins for farms. However, direct sales are limited by weather, seasonality and lack of convenience.
99.7% of food is purchased indirectly from producers. Food travels long distances from farm to table - on average 1,500 miles. The current food system is dependent on high levels of fossil fuels and is vulnerable to climate change, oil shortages and other disruptions.
The rate of farms closing continues to EXCEED the rate at which new farmers enter agriculture!
In 2014, after researching our community's interest level in local food and capability to supply local food, we opened our "every day year-round" farmer's market at 325 W Liberty in a long-abandoned gas station. We immediately saw that consumers who wanted to buy food from local farms were enthusiastic about having a convenient place to shop. And we began creating a community of those folks. In 2016, this store paid over $1 million to local producers.
In 2017, at the urging of our farms, who have invested and grown their businesses, we opened our second location at 1200 Packard Road in Ann Arbor. Come visit and ask a staffer about the origin of the food you buy!
By the end of 2018, the Argus Farm Stop business has paid over $5 million to local farms and food producers, through operation of both stores, and we now have over 200 farms selling here. We are happy to say that we hear regularly from folks who want to consider this model for their own towns. Here is an example in Chelsea, MI: https://www.agricolefarmstop.com/