Good Natured Food Campus- An Economic and Cultural Engine for the Northside Regeneration Plan

Period of Performance: 09/17/2015 - 12/31/2015

$332K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

RAINBOW ORGANIC FARMS CO
1976 55TH ST Array
Bronson, KS 66716
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

Rainbow Organic Farms Co., DBA Good Natured Family Farms, proposes to establish The Good Natured Food Campus - a local food aggregator, wholesale distributor and value-added facility of locally-grown food from small/mid-sized farms, to be located in the heart of the Northside Regeneration Plan Community in North St. Louis, MO.The Food Campus will address the fresh-food needs of a vulnerable population in an impoverished food desert, and incentivize local small and mid-sized farmers to grow and sell more products locally - thereby strengthening the sustainability of the local farming community.The City of St Louis is ranked as one of the nation's leading areas in critical food shortage - it is nearly impossible for the underserved community of North St. Louis to access local, healthy, and affordable food; 25.7% of households with children are struggling with food security and hunger issues daily.On the other hand, in 2010, Missouri ranked second in the country for number of farms (108,000). However, the availability of locally produced fresh foods in Missouri is limited due to the lack of production of fresh market fruit and vegetables and a scarcity of facilities able to clean, process, repack, and market fresh foods. Another compelling reason for the unavailability of locally produced fresh foods in Missouri is that local food producers face market-access challenges, such as:SupplyMost farmers don't grow enough to consistently or adequately supply larger distribution channelsMost farmers are unable to compete with agri-businessInsuranceMost farmers can't afford to meet costly liability requirements of food merchandising and food service purchasersPackagingRequirements often too costly and sometimes too difficult to meet on a small farm or at a small enterpriseLogisticsShipping to many customers is not efficient or economicalThe Good Natured Food Campus, along with the recruitment and mentoring of local farmers into a large Farmer Alliance network will help to negate these obstacles and would enable even the smaller farmers to participate in selling their products. Local small/mid-sized farmers will have increased income through new revenue streams through membership in the Farmers Alliance.The Farmers Alliance will enable farmers to consolidate sales, packing and transportation, incur lower risks with higher profits - and will become GAP Certified (Good Agricultural Practices) which will enable them to pursue sales to large grocers. GAP Certification is a requirement of grocers, but many farmers are in the dark on how to proceed with this program. The Food Campus and the Farmers Alliance will mentor farmers to get them up to speed to meet the GAP requirements, ensure food safety, and promote and encourage sustainability of local farm enterprises.The outcome of including more farmers in the Good Natured Family Farms Alliance is increased income for sustainable farms, increased land value, beginner farmers joining the farming industry, and local, fresh food availability will thwart natural and man-made disasters. Growth in the local foods industry could support more young people who stay on the farm - or come back to the farm after college - to carry on the family business.The vulnerable, underserved population in the inner-city of North St. Louis is the other targeted audience group that the Food Campus will assist. This area is impoverished and lacks any resource for fresh, local food. The Food Campus will be established in the middle of this area and will focus on wholesale food distribution and EBT food programs that will help stretch the food dollar of the families who rely on food assistance. Missouri Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is the method by which households receive and use Food Stamp benefits. According to the USDA, the percentage of EBT users in St. Louis City is 36%, compared to 14.3% of Americans nationwide who relied on food stamps in March, 2011.The Food Campus will build strategic community