|Picture courtesy of The Tyee|
Colleen has spent the last few years writing about a variety of issues related to agriculture. With that introduction, here's the case of the Home Grow-in Grocery, Ltd.
The basic business idea was a market that specialized in locally grown and produced produce; that sounds pretty good. Here's a quote from a news story in Oct, 2010.
"What I'm trying to do with my growers," says Reynolds, "is bring a market to them, rather than them having to go to the market. I want to show there is a market for their produce seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year." Deb Reynolds, founder of Home Grow-in Grocery, Ltd.
This is actually a problem that I'd like to have a solution to on my farm. It's difficult for me to get to a farmers market because I'd have to staff a booth, and public-contact people can be hard to find. And I have to justify the cost of an employee by the sales profit, which means I have to do something that is relatively high volume.
Apparently that was the case for many farmers in BC, and a number of them invested in this venture -- both cash, $10,000 in one case -- and in product, allowing the market to recieve and sell their produce without getting paid for it, for months. Customers also invested in this idea, paying in advance for boxes of produce, similar to the CSA system that's sprung up in many cities around America.
It all came to a head when the market declared bankruptcy and the founder of the market also dissapeared, apparently owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to farmers and customers, as well as individuals who invested between $2,500 and $10,000 each.
After this the market was rebranded and apparently continued operation.
The folks who got involved with this apparently handed over money and product with no written agreements, and without what I'd consider a reasonable amount of caution; farming is full of people who are personable, have great ideas, and are good at promotion, but fall short when it comes to the boots-on-the-ground grit that it takes to do the daily operations grind.