Our current agricultural system favors large-scale, industrialized farms made to produce monocrops that are shipped all over the world. Consumers are sold on the idea that this system keeps food cheap and affordable, but it also means that middlemen take much of the profits while greenhouse gas emissions run high. The Argus Farm Stop in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s model provides economic and cultural benefits as well as enhanced resiliency for the farmers and communities they serve. This guidebook outlines the benefits and challenges of implementing this consignment-based business model. It highlights best practices, offers resources and technical assistance for the establishment of additional Farm Stops around the country, and prioritizes the development of regional, circular sustainable food systems that empower local farmers and enrich communities.
Kathryn Barr is a local food systems advocate, organic farmer, researcher, and integrative nutrition health coach. Currently, she works as an Outreach Specialist at The Common Market, a non-profit regional food distributor based out of Philadelphia, PA.
"How to Start a Farm Stop is a meticulously structured guidebook for place-based retailers who want to increase local food sales for the benefit of farmers and consumers in their communities. By leaning into the 'consignment model' often associated with antique stores and artist coops, the book is a soup-to-nuts manual for starting and managing a 'small-farm supporting grocery store.' Real life examples—gleaned from existing, independently owned-and-operated Farm Stops located throughout the United States—lend street credibility to the model and the manual. By highlighting a suggested 'consignment ration' of 75% for farmers, 25% for the retailer, the author shows us what valuing the real cost of food production could look like if practiced.
As a community food systems practitioner who has started and managed a variety of direct-to-consumer local food markets, the guidebook brought back a flood of memories. The worry, time, and energy it took to uncover the fast-moving information needed to create new outlets for local food sales was formidable. What a gift it is to see it all in an easy-to-access, plain-language publication for the next generation of value chain innovators."- Kim Hines, Leadership Co-Chair of the North American Food Systems Network
"How to Start a Farm Stop is an invaluable tool for those who are passionate about how we go about reimagining food systems, drawing on deep research and experience with the farm stop consignment model. Kathryn Barr not only makes the case for why regional food systems are needed; she lays out the intricate steps to make it happen. Her intimate knowledge of the model she presents in this open-source resource—including nuances of the necessary inputs from infrastructure to financing models to relationship building with food producers—is a recipe for transformation."- Michelle Stearn, Sustainability Strategist