Yesterday morning, June 24th, area food producers gathered in the covered parking lot of the Skagit Valley Food Co-op to sell their products to a variety of new and existing wholesale customers. In less than two hours, sixteen Skagit and surrounding area buyers, including Nell Thorn, Mt Vernon Schools and Skagit Valley Hospital, came to meet the producers, collect orders, make new purchases and establish new business contacts.
The Skagit WholeSale Market is the result of a successful collaboration between Puget Sound Food Network and the Skagit Valley Food Co-op. It is the only grassroots business-to-business market of its kind in Washington. According to early feedback, market participants will continue doing commerce there every week through harvest season, interest provided. All wholesale buyers are welcome.
The weekly market was designed to help area buyers and sellers decrease time and fuel costs associated with collecting and delivering products. There were a limited number of spaces to fill, so the Skagit Valley Food Co-op and Puget Sound Food Network identified an initial group of local vendors to fill spaces. PSFN members Hidden Meadow Ranch, San Juan Pasta Co, Sakuma Bros, Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy all participated in the launch. One producer reported, “I go to farmers markets and hope to make $500, I usually make $300. Today I made $800.”
The Market was recognized as a consolidation hub by both producers and buyers. As one producer put it, “I have heard this idea kicked around for a couple of years now and while I liked it in theory, it wasn’t clear how it could be kick-started. That PSFN and the Co-op were able to get on board together indicates to me it is an idea whose time has come.”
Products such as lettuce and greens of all sorts, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, fresh pasta, organic milk and cream, organic and pastured lamb, pork , beef, eggs, poultry and honey were available at this first market. Next week, we expect to see a few new vendors bringing products such as artisan cheese and frozen seafood to the mix.
PSFN staff filmed documentary video of this market, interviewing both vendors and buyers in the process of doing business. We can’t wait to see it. We are in the process of collecting data and feedback from participants so we can track and report progress throughout the season. If this market works over time, it’s an idea that we would want to replicate with other host partners in the region.
For more background and information, please read our first press release from June 8th on our blog at http://agbizcenter.org/blog/2010/06/seeking-buyers-for-the-skagit-wholesale-market-thursdays-starting-june-24th/.