Last fall, City Market worked with the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to launch an innovative pilot project called "Farm to Freezer," regionally sourced frozen fruits and vegetables available exclusively through NFCA’s member food co-ops. As part of an effort to source more products on a regional level, these member co-ops had identified frozen produce as a key area of opportunity. The project was an exciting demonstration of what food co-ops can do when we work together and included blueberries, broccoli, green beans and sweet corn grown and processed here in our region.
For the second season of our pilot, the NFCA has been working with partners at Sunrise Orchards to expand the range of products, as well as how long they will be available. In response to feedback from NFCA members and customers, the group has also been working with Deep Root Organic Co-op, a regional co-op of small, family farmers, to transition more of the produce used in the project to organic sources. This partnership is also an exciting opportunity to demonstrate collaboration among co-ops as we work to build a thriving co-operative economy in our region.
As we approach the fall holidays, most of the products that will be available this season are now in frozen storage. As the NFCA works to complete the final stages of processing, they are also working on the details of distribution to member food co-ops. Starting in November, look for Neighboring Food Co-op Association Frozen Blueberries, Organic Broccoli, Organic Green Beans, Organic Spinach, and Organic and Conventional (non-GMO) Sweet Corn in the frozen section of NFCA member food co-ops, including City Market.
While we are excited about the progress that has been made this season, this is a multiyear project. The NFCA member co-ops are working to develop infrastructure and systems where there were none previously. In collaboration with farmer partners, this project will extend the marketing season for producers in our region. And, together, food co-ops are creating a model that will keep regionally grown fruits and vegetables on our shelves and available to our customers into the winter.