According to the 2017 USDA Agricultural Census, Monroe County and the wider state of Indiana has seen a very significant decline in the number of food farms operating over the past 70+ years. Currently, the majority of food purchased in the Bloomington area is imported from other states and countries. Less than 1% of consumer food spending goes directly to farms in our region. This has very serious implications for the long-term food security of our community and presents a tremendous challenge for the food farms and businesses in our area that seek to make a livelihood from feeding their neighbors.
In January of 2020, a group of Monroe County farmers and Bloomingfoods staff & board members travelled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to complete a three day intensive training with the Argus Farm Stop, to learn about how their consignment based, everyday farmers market model has helped their community to grow its local food economy.
Our group came back inspired and excited to open a store like this here in Bloomington. Since then we have been busy laying the framework for our organization: legally incorporating an agricultural cooperative, fundraising, renovating a building, and recruiting vendors.
This project represents an important step toward building a stronger local food system in our community. We seek to increase the amount of food that consumers buy from local farms and empower farmers with greater ownership of the food distribution system.
Start-up for this initiative has been made possible by generous grant funding from the City of Bloomington and the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County as well as the dedication of our volunteer board and the amazing team at Argus.