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Backyard Bounty Co-op

What is the Backyard Bounty Co-op?

Backyard Bounty is a project of Urban Abundance, a Vancouver-based non-profit funded through Slow Food Southwest Washington. Urban Abundance envisions an urban landscape filled with abundance. The goal of Urban Abundance in launching Backyard Bounty is to support the growth of market gardening in Clark County by removing barriers, advocating for the use of undeveloped lands and open spaces to grow food in urban areas, and building capacity among urban farmers.

Backyard Bounty is primarily a collective marketing venture that allows small-scale urban growers to sell their produce, flowers, and nursery stock at local farmers markets without the burden of staffing and organizing an individual booth. Many growers have an interest in market gardening but do not produce enough or have sufficient resources to sustain a booth of their own. For these growers, Backyard Bounty can be a stepping stone, providing administrative, logistical, and material support to bridge the gap between market aspirations and market opportunities.

Backyard Bounty also aims to provide a source of income, particularly during difficult economic times, and to provide community members with new opportunities to buy fresh, locally produced food.

Where will the Backyard Bounty be located?

For its first season, Backyard Bounty will be selling at Urban Growers Market, a monthly food and craft market which will be starting up this May. The Market takes place the 2nd Friday of each month, from 4pm – 8pm. It is located in the heart of Uptown Vancouver near the intersection of Main Street and 24th.

Who should join Backyard Bounty?

Anyone with a genuine interest in market gardening, a willingness to translate their interest into action, and a commitment to providing quality, earth-friendly produce should consider becoming a member. Whether someone has five acres or five square feet, we are eager for members who are passionate about growing good food and want to bring their sustainable, urban-raised bounty to market.

Why should I join Backyard Bounty? What are the benefits of membership?

As a Backyard Bounty member, the primary benefit is the ability to access direct marketing opportunities without navigating the administrative, logistical, and financial challenges of operating a market booth. Backyard Bounty as an entity will handle the organization, set-up, take-down, staffing, and advertising of a vendor booth at Urban Grower’s Market, with the possibility of expanding into additional markets in the future.

Backyard Bounty provides accounting and marketing management for all products sold through the Co-op as well as general support for members’ farming enterprises. Members are able to increase their capacity through pooling resources, knowledge, information, and even purchasing power. They also benefit from a supportive community of like-minded farmers and entrepreneurs.

What does Backyard Bounty require of its members?

Backyard Bounty is intended to support each member’s efforts, but it is also intended as a collective endeavor (not simply a service) and a venue for bringing growers together. To help this endeavor succeed and maximize the benefits for everyone, we ask that members:

  • Be responsible for harvesting, washing, storing, packing, and transporting their produce according to mutually agreed upon Backyard Bounty guidelines. We will happily provide training and materials if necessary and may also offer limited pick-up service for growers who are unable to transport their products.
  • Maintain certain standards regarding health, safety, and environmental stewardship in their market gardening operations.
  • Pay a 20% consignment fee to help cover costs of the Backyard Bounty booth. This includes expenses such as insurance, market fees, and supplies. Members can also “pay” consignment fee through a donation of time; consignment fees for a given market day are waived for any grower who volunteers to staff the booth.
  • Commit to attending several meetings throughout the market season as well as a strategic planning meeting before the season begins. Meetings during the season will initially be on a monthly basis then adjusted as seems appropriate. Meetings will be an opportunity for training, discussion, networking, and collective decision-making.

How does Backyard Bounty work?

Backyard Bounty (at least initially) is using a model based on GrowMemphis, a project of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

Each month, Backyard Bounty members will bring their produce to the market packaged and ready to sell (Backyard Bounty volunteer staff will do some sorting to ensure a quality product). As produce is received, the booth staff will record the weight, volume, or quantity (depending on how the product will be sold) as well as the source of the product. When growers bring the same item, such as bunches of kale, the weight/volume/quantity contributed by each grower is recorded and then the produce is combined and labeled at the booth as the same product (again, with appropriate discretion). Total revenue from sales of that product is then divided proportionally based on the weight/volume/quantity contributed by each grower.

Barring other requests, products will be priced by Backyard Bounty staff based on what the market will bear and what prices other vendors are charging for similar products. If growers contribute a unique item, the staff will ask the grower to help determine an appropriate price for their product.

At the end of the day, growers can pick up any unsold produce. Leftover produce will be donated and/or distributed among booth volunteers.

If I’m a Backyard Bounty member, can I still sell my produce elsewhere?

Absolutely! Particularly for members growing larger volumes of produce, a once-a-month event may not be a sufficient market outlet. We encourage growers to sell their products through whatever channels are most appropriate for their operation. Ideally, the resources provided by Backyard Bounty will enable members to tap into market opportunities wherever they are available. 

Interested? Contact:

Maika Horjus, Backyard Bounty Program Coordinator  

Phone: (360) 909-9012

Email: Maika@myurbanabundance.org

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