Southwest Farm Fresh Co-op receives $70,000 USDA Grant
The Southwest Farm Fresh Cooperative is pleased to announce receipt of a grant for $70,000 from the USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program. SWFF was the only Colorado recipient of LFPP money, and will use the grant to purchase much-needed refrigeration equipment to be used in the distribution of local farm products in this region.
The grant will fund three refrigerated cargo trailers that will be parked strategically throughout the SWFF collection and distribution area, and will function as drop sites for member farms. The refrigerated SWFF delivery truck will collect the products from these trailers instead of collecting at individual farms. The result will be a more efficient distribution system and new access to refrigerated space by over half of coop members who currently lack on-farm refrigeration. Another outcome of the grant will be the purchase of a modular office trailer for the coop’s operational base.
The strategy of this grant proposal is to create a distribution system with decentralized or ‘cloud-based’ infrastructure that can be moved or reconfigured as local food distribution evolves in southwest Colorado. Most grants of this type fund central food hub warehouses, but given the distances separating the SWFF producer members, no central facility could adequately serve all member farms. Decentralized infrastructure will enable a flexible and resilient distribution system for local food products in southwest Colorado.
SWFF consists of 20 member farms in Archuleta, La Plata, Montezuma, and Dolores counties, and primarily serves the wholesale restaurant market. The cooperative was incorporated in March of 2014, and is now researching ways to serve the public directly beginning in 2015.