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Ivey student's organic urban farm partners with local grocer

  • Agnes Chick
  • |
  • Sep 20, 2019
Ivey student's organic urban farm partners with local grocer

Richie Bloomfield, HBA '14, MBA '20 candidate (second to left)

Partnerships are great for local businesses to join forces and find new ways to connect with customers. That's why Urban Roots Londona non-profit organic urban farm co-founded by Richie Bloomfield, HBA '14, MBA '20 candidate, Jeremy Horrell, Graham Bracken, BA '14, and Heather Bracken, JD '15, decided to partner with the Old East Village (OEV) Grocer in London, Ontario.

Growing a partnership

Over the past year, Bloomfield and his team brainstormed ways they could partner with local businesses. OEV Grocer, which is owned and operated by ATN Access for Persons with Disabilities Inc.offered the perfect opportunity.

"The OEV Grocer had received a lot of feedback from customers that they would like more local and organic options," said Bloomfield. "However, as a very small grocery store, they are limited in their supplier choices, so this kind of produce was next to impossible for them to access. Their order size was too small."

Urban Roots had recently increased their production and the team was looking for new opportunities to expand their produce outlets. Collaborating with the OEV Grocer seemed fitting for both parties. 

Introducing a new pop-up market

Since Urban Roots produces on a small scale – and their urban farm is just down the street from the OEV Grocer – they decided to trial a temporary pop-up market on the Grocer's patio. Community members expressed immediate interest, and the weekly Old East Village Grocer Pop-up Market was officially formed.

"In our first two weeks, we sold out in the first two hours of setting up, which tells us there is clearly demand in the neighbourhood," said Bloomfield.

Accessibility to local organic produce

The Old East Village Grocer Pop-up Market helps Londoners gain access to fresh-picked, locally-grown organic produce where it wasn't previously available – and at an affordable cost. 

"Both organizations are non-profits and we are both concerned with making sure the food is accessible to as many people as possible," said Bloomfield. "We sell our vegetables to the OEV Grocer at a 50 per cent discount off our full wholesale price, which is the same rate we sell to other social enterprises in the city like Edgar and Joe's Café and Growing Chef's!"

What's next for Urban Roots?

With the demand for more pop-up markets in local communities, Urban Roots and OEV Grocer plan on making the Old East Village Grocer Pop-up Market an annual event.

"We plan to run this market for the rest of the season (hopefully end of October, weather permitting), and start up early summer next year," said Bloomfield.

Urban Roots was recently nominated for a Pillar Community Innovation Award in the category of Community IMPACT. Winners will be announced on November 20.