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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

city bloomington

Bloomington Farm Stop Collective: Helping local farmers and food systems

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Just about everything in the Bloomington Farm Stop Collective is Indiana grown, meaning you can browse through a selection of seasonal produce, eggs and honey while sipping on freshly brewed tea from the cafe all while you shop. That’s not the only thing that makes the Kirkwood Avenue grocery store stand out.  

Bobbi Boos is a lifelong farmer and the store manager of the farm stop. Opening in 2021, the BFSC is organized as an agricultural cooperative, meaning around 50 farmers own the store. Although, Boos said, the number is always changing. Selling at the farm stop allows for farmers to have more control over their merchandise. 

“They get to deliver when they feel like, or when it's convenient,” Boos said. “The goal is for them to have time on their farms, to make it as feasible as possible for the farms. They deliver what they want. They grow what they want. They set their own prices.”  

The products sold in the store are on consignment, Boos said. For farmers selling at the BFSC, that means they get to keep 70% of their revenue. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, on average farmers receive 15 cents for every retail dollar spent on food.  

Including food and craft artisans, the farm stop supports over 100 local businesses by selling their goods in store. There are no set criteria for which vendors can sell at the BFSC, Ash Teng, a Bloomington Farm Stop Collective board member and farm seller, said.    

“We do really appreciate transparency in how their growing practices are,” Teng said. “Whether they till, or no till, whether they use organic fertilizer, some pesticides, cover cropping – all these practices that sequester carbon and make it more sustainable for growing.”  

Teng pointed to a large sign hanging up in the store. Upon a closer look, readers can see each farm listed with information on how it operates and their practices. Each product around the store is labeled with the city and farm that it came from. The only products available that were not made in Indiana are from Janie’s Mill Flours in Ashkum, Illinois – just a little over a three-hour drive away.  

The Bloomington Farm Stop Collective believes that Bloomington has a large farming community for a town its size, and it sees that attracting new farmers to come and join the local food economy. Teng said the farm stop is always open to encourage beginners.  

“That’s one of the benefits of having this farm stop,” Teng said. “New, beginning farmers who are interested but perhaps in need of a bigger outlet to make an economic, sustainable business, they can join here, and they can ask for sponsorship. We’ll waive their membership fee, which is normally $300 for all our members. We do scholarships to encourage the next generation of farmers. We want small farmers to come together and support the local food system.”  

In addition to supporting local farmers, the Bloomington Farm Stop Collective is dedicated to supporting community shoppers and making locally and sustainably grown food more accessible. Teng said that in 2023, $48,000 worth of locally grown food from the BFSC was distributed through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Food Program.  

“We want something that is convenient, that’s accessible and that we can support local farmers at the same time. The big difference is being able to provide fresh, health food seven days a week and also double up SNAP benefits.”  

In a partnership with the Farm to Family Fund, the Bloomington Farm Stop Collective can match all SNAP benefits for their entire value, meaning each $1 spent through SNAP is worth $2 at the BFSC. The farm stop is also seven days a week, unlike a traditional farmers market model, making fresh, local food available every day of the week.  

In addition to consignment, the BFSC also has an in-store cafe selling various locally grown and crafted teas, coffees and food available for purchase. The large seating area is used as a place of community gathering: space for farmers to connect, local clubs to meet and for the farm stop to hold educational agricultural or gardening events like seed swaps, with the help of volunteer farmers. 

The Bloomington Farm Stop Collective is open 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, located at 902 W. Kirkwood Ave. 

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