Updated: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is the Rose Hill Farm Stop for?
    • The Rose Hill Farm Stop is for everyone in the Bloomington community.  We seek to build a welcoming, inclusive, and diverse local food gathering space for our vendors, customers, staff, and neighbors.  Specific examples of the work we are doing to accomplish this goal are detailed in the Q& A below. If you have suggestions or ideas for ways that we can improve our store and make it more approachable or accessible, please contact us to connect and collaborate!
       
  2. When will the store be opening?  What are the store hours?
    • We opened on August 5, 2021. 
    • Store hours will be 8:30am-6:30pm daily!

  3. What work are you doing to address racial inequity in the food system?
    • We recognize that food systems are complex spaces that connect to many other social issues, including racial equity.  There are several ways we are working to address this important area.  To start, in January 2021, the majority of our Board members completed an “Uprooting Racism in the Food System” training with Soul Fire Farm, “an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system.” Some topics covered in this workshop included a history of racial oppression in the US food system, reflection on privilege, bias, and decision points, and review of an organizational equity rubric.
    • In follow up to this training, we developed a multi-year equity action plan, with several steps already underway.  For example, we prioritize accepting beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged farmers (as defined by the USDA) as members in the cooperative, to assist in increasing market access opportunities for these underrepresented populations.  We also offer work-trade opportunities and sponsorship opportunities that waive the $300 annual co-op membership fee for farms who feel that the fee would create a significant economic hardship for their business.  Going forward, plans are in place for the board and staff to continue learning about racial equity food system issues and we are actively working to increase diversity in our vendor representation, board leadership, employee hiring, and customer base through community outreach.  If you have additional suggestions or ideas for work that can be done to build a more inclusive and diverse food gathering place, please let us know.

  4. What work are you doing to make local food accessible to low-income individuals and families?
    • We are currently working on three food access objectives.  First, we have initiated the process to accept SNAP payments in our store and expect to receive final approval for this from the USDA within 30-60 days after opening.  Second, we have also begun fundraising to offer a SNAP matching program, where SNAP customers could double the value of their SNAP dollars when shopping in our store.  If you are interested in contributing to this important cause, please contact us at info@rosehillfarmstop.com.  Finally, for surplus products that we are unable to sell, we have connected with the Farm to Family Fund, a Bloomington non-profit organization that purchases “healthful, sustainably produced food” from local farmers and makes it available to low-income households.  We are exploring options for them to purchase surplus food from our vendors at a discounted rate and then donate these items to area food pantries.

  5. What kinds of food justice and social justice projects is the Rose Hill Farm Stop working on?
    • We believe that our project and mission is inherently food justice oriented by empowering farmers with greater ownership of the food distribution system and providing a place where consumers can access local food on a daily basis.  Our primary focus towards this end is launching this new farm stop outlet and helping farmers to capture a larger market share of community food spending. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, when consumers buy food at any corporate grocery store, restaurant, or other mainstream food outlet, farmers receive an average of just 14.6 cents for every dollar spent.  In our farm stop model, farmers own the store where they are selling, they set their own prices, and they receive a 75 cent return for every dollar spent.  Beyond this fundamental mission-focused work, our food justice efforts also include:
      • Prioritizing beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged (as defined by the USDA) vendors and their products.
      • Accepting SNAP payments and eventually offering a SNAP doubling program. 
      • Launching an online platform to connect institutional food buyers with small local farmers.
      • Offering community cooking classes and demonstrations in our store.
      • Creating new retail jobs with living wages.
      • Donating unsold products to area food pantries.
      • Using any store profits, beyond those needed for building improvements or expansion, to create a grant program to launch new local food system projects or to benefit beginning farmers.

  6. Are any Rose Hill Farm Stop vendors affiliated with white supremacist hate groups?
    • To our knowledge, the RHFS does not have any vendors affiliated with white supremacist or any other hate groups.  We are committed to creating a diverse and transparent food space where everyone can feel welcome and safe, including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people. As such, our organizational policies state a clear expectation that all vendors  act in a courteous, respectful, and honest manner with customers, fellow vendors, community members, RHFS Board representatives, and staff at all times.  Failure to comply with these basic expectations will not be tolerated and may result in rejection of vendor applications or immediate revocation of existing vendor licenses, at the Cooperative’s sole discretion.  White supremacy or hatred of any kind will not be allowed in our store.

  7. Won’t the Rose Hill Farm Stop create unfair competition for already established local food outlets in town, like farmers’ markets and Bloomingfoods?
    • Our goal is not to compete with any of the existing local food outlets in towns, but to increase the percentage of resident food spending that goes to local farms. We support all farmers markets and local food outlets in Bloomington and believe these wonderful spaces do incredibly important work in our community. However, of the more than $800 million Monroe County residents spend on food every year, less than 1% currently goes to local farms in our region and state. The Rose Hill Farm Stop seeks to expand the infrastructure for local food in our community, to make it easier for farmers to sell their products and for consumers to buy it.  Farmers should be able to earn a viable livelihood from feeding their communities, and we believe that the farm stop model will play an important complement to area farmers markets and other food coops.  

  8. Who owns the Rose Hill Farm Stop?
    • RHFS is owned by a non-profit agricultural cooperative, the Bloomington Farm Stop Collective.  Membership in the co-op, as required by Indiana law, is made up of all farm vendors selling through our store.  Any local farmer who meets the requirements detailed in our Vendor Policies is welcome and encouraged to apply to become a member.

  9. Who is on the board of directors? 
    • The Board of Directors currently includes Joe Brumley from Woods Edge Farm, Jonas Carpenter from Mavourneen Farm, Mike Record from New Ground Farm, Salem Willard from Bread and Roses Gardens, and Stephen Stoll from Rising Moon Acres.  There have been numerous other people involved in the board since the beginning of this project, including women and people of color, but our current team does lack diversity.  This is an area of organizational weakness that we recognize and have been working to address.  In late 2021, we will hold democratic elections, where our member farms will vote to select a new board of directors.  This fall we will devote substantial time to board candidate recruitment and diversification.

  10. Is the Rose Hill Farm Stop affiliated with the City of Bloomington? 
    • RHFS has received grant funding from the City of Bloomington’s Recover Forward Program as well as start-up project facilitation support from the City’s Local Food Coordinator, Rachel Beyer, but we are otherwise a fully independent organization.  More information about this connection is detailed below.

  11. How did the Rose Hill Farm Stop project get started?
    • In October 2018, as part of its new Sustainability Action Plan, the City of Bloomington became a partner in a statewide USDA Local Food Promotion Program grant, Indiana Farm Connect.  The overall project goal was to develop regional supply chains that better connect Indiana farms with institutional food buyers like schools, universities, hospitals, workplaces, restaurants, and grocery stores.  In April 2019, the City’s Economic and Sustainable Development Department created a temporary, grant funded ‘Local Food Coordinator’ position to lead this effort.  
    • Over the summer and fall of 2019, a comprehensive local foods needs assessment was conducted to evaluate interest in local sourcing and sales.  Several hundred regional farms and Bloomington food businesses were invited to participate in these interviews.  Survey findings showed that buyer needs and farmer needs do not clearly align, primarily because of differences in scale.  The majority of food farmers in the Bloomington community and surrounding areas have small farms which need higher price points for business viability.  The volumes of food they produce are usually too inadequate or inconsistent for existing food distributors to be interested in carrying them.  On the other side, most institutional buyers have limited budgets to feed large numbers of people and they are often part of large corporations that have state or regional oversight of menu planning and vendor approval.  Their time and labor is limited as well, making it important for ordering to be quick and reliable. 
    • In research to understand how other communities around the country are working to build up the capacity of their local food systems, the Argus Farm Stop, a successful consignment based local-only grocery store, came up as a model that has helped small local farms to sell more food at a fair price but also practice and build skills relevant to selling through an institutional outlet.  Argus also utilizes a web based platform that helps growers who have larger surplus volumes aggregate and connect with restaurants and early childhood centers that want to source local products from one convenient, centralized contact point.
    • In January 2020, the City paid for a group of nine Monroe County farmers & food system advocates to complete a three day intensive training with the Argus Farm Stop team in Ann Arbor, to learn about how they got started and how they operate.  Five Bloomingfoods board & staff members also participated in the workshop.  This group came back inspired and excited to open a farm stop here in Bloomington.  A volunteer steering committee was subsequently established to fundraise and set up the legal and physical structures to launch the new agricultural cooperative and store that is now the Rose Hill Farm Stop.  

  12. How was the Rose Hill Farm Stop able to receive grant funding from the City of Bloomington?
    • Funding for this project has been one of the biggest challenges.  We needed enough money to organize a cooperative of farmers, lease and renovate a building, and acquire adequate refrigeration equipment to run a small store.  We have applied for numerous grant opportunities and the City’s Local Food Coordinator has advocated for City investment in this project concept on multiple occasions.  In summer 2020, when the Mayor’s Office proposed the pandemic recovery plan, ‘Recover Forward,’ each City department had the opportunity to suggest projects for funding that could help to create a more equitable, sustainable and resilient economy.  The Local Food Coordinator again submitted a request for funds to support the start-up of a Bloomington farm stop, along with several other local food system initiatives.  In August of 2020, $75,000 was approved for the farm stop concept by the Bloomington City Council as part of phase one of Recover Forward.  Then in October of 2020, an additional $113,000 was allocated for 2021 distribution to the farm stop project in phase two of Recover Forward.  With this second allocation, the City Council also approved separate funding for two other local food system projects: a) $30,000 for a farm to school pilot program and b) $20,000 for an incubator farm to help beginning farmers access land and capital intensive equipment.  These two projects are separate from the farm stop initiative (see question #14) and will begin planning and implementation in fall 2021.  More information about Recover Forward and the many projects this funding supports, is available here

  13. Where did the funding for this project come from?  What is the money supposed to be used for?
    • We have received funding from the following sources:
      • $188,000 grant from the City of Bloomington Recover Forward Program
      • $18,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County
      • $5,401.25 facade grant from the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association
      • $7,500 from farm membership dues
      • $50,000 equipment loan from CoBank
    • All of these funds were allocated to cover start-up expenses for this project, including legal fees for incorporation and co-op bylaw development, building security deposit and renovation costs, equipment purchasing, and initial staff expenses. 

  14. Was some of the funding supposed to be used to start a BIPOC incubator?
    • No, the funding we have received was all intended to be used for the start-up and launch of the Rose Hill Farm Stop.  We have used the funds according to the grant guidelines.  The City of Bloomington does have some different Recover Forward funding allocated to explore the possibility of starting an incubator farm for beginning farmers that would provide free or low-cost access to land, tractors, waterlines, greenhouse, cooler space, and other farm equipment.  That is a separate City of Bloomington project, however, and has nothing to do with the Rose Hill Farm Stop.  If you want to get involved with the farm incubator initiative, please contact rachel.beyer@bloomington.in.gov.

  15. Who can be a vendor at the Rose Hill Farm Stop?  
    • We currently accept vendor applications in two categories:
      • Farm vendors include any individual or business that engages in the production of agricultural products, including horticultural, viticultural, forestry, dairy, livestock, poultry, bee, and any other farm product.
      • Non-farm vendors include any individual or business that engages in the production of food products using ingredients they did not grow or raise themselves.
    • We prioritize accepting vendors based on the following criteria:
      • Geographic locality & proximity
      • Ecological production practices
      • Beginning, Limited Resource, and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers (as defined by the USDA)
      • Social sustainability
      • Product quality, variety, and consistency

  16. Are there different consignment rates for different vendors?  What are these consignment fees used for?
    • Farm vendors pay a 25% consignment fee for every item purchased in the store.  Non-farm vendors pay a 30% consignment fee.  So if a customer buys a $10 farm product at RHFS, we keep $2.50 and pay the farmer $7.50.  Similarly, if a customer buys a $10 non-farm product, we keep $3.00 and pay the vendor $7.00.  Consignment fees are used to cover the cost of operating the store, including rent, staff wages, utilities, building & equipment maintenance, store supplies, and more.  Sales from the cafe area subsidize the operation so that vendors can receive these higher margins for their products.  

  17. How have you reached out to recruit vendors?
    • We held two vendor outreach meetings in November of 2020 and March of 2021, both in a COVID-safe virtual format, with presentations about the farm stop model and time for questions and answers.  We invited vendors from all the farmers markets in the Bloomington area to participate, reaching out to every individual we had contact information for, as well as asking area farmers’ market leadership teams and local farm service agencies to help share information about these events.  When we began formally accepting vendor applications, we again contacted every Bloomington based farmer, food artisans, farmers market and food system organization we had contact information for and also reached out to farmers and markets in the surrounding counties.  Our intention has always been to make this an open and inclusive local food space and we welcome collaboration and partnership with other food system organizations.

  18. Do you accept artists and craft vendors?
    • See question #15 above about who can currently be a vendor at the RHFS.  To start, we are only accepting crafted products that are made by farmers, with primarily farmer grown, raised, or gathered materials. 
    • We recognize the important role that artists and craft vendors play in the economy and the Board of Directors is exploring the possibility of accepting other types of vendors in the future.

  19. How will the store be arranged?  Will each vendor have their own booth?
    • Rose Hill Farm Stop will look and feel like a small grocery store.  Products will be arranged by type, so all the tomatoes will be in one area, all the ground beef in another, with vendor specific signage to make clear which farm every product comes from.  Vendors will make regular deliveries to the store and sell on a consignment basis, with RHFS staff selling food and farm products on behalf of the vendors.

  20. How was the building location chosen?
    • In fall 2020, we worked with a commercial real estate agent to locate a building that met the criteria listed below.  We looked at numerous available properties around Bloomington and were fortunate enough to come across the space we have leased at 902 West Kirkwood Avenue.
      • Somewhere interesting & cool that people would want to spend time
      • In a neighborhood/area where people walk to other destinations
      • Available parking, plus space for a very small seasonal greenhouse or garden center
      • Natural light
      • Plumbing & electric capacity to accommodate the equipment needs for our grocery and café
      • Large enough for our business plan, with space for a grocery display, café, walk-in coolers & freezers, dry storage, food prep, and community meeting room
      • Within a budget our business plan could afford

  21. How was the name Rose Hill chosen?
    • Choosing a name was a hard task.  We wanted something that connected to the geography or history of the neighborhood and could also be related to our mission.  We did some research, contacted the Monroe County History Center, looked at old GIS records, and polled our farm vendors.  In the end, we chose to name our store in reference to the Rose Hill Cemetery because of its proximity to our building–literally catty corner across the street–and because of the name’s connection to nature.  Roses used to grow wild in the cemetery and can be found growing wild on many area farms.  In future years, we hope to have additional farm stop locations that can be named in connection to the place or neighborhood where they are located.  

  22. Is the Rose Hill Farm Stop an ADA accessible facility?
    • Yes!  We have worked with a local architect to design ADA accessible parking, entrances, walkways, and bathrooms.  If you visit our store and see ways to improve our accessibility, please let us know!