Here’s what we’re all up against:
There is a system in America that funnels food from giant farms thousands of miles away into restaurants and grocery stores across the country. Meanwhile, family farms in our own backyard are fighting to survive, and consumers have limited options for buying food that is good, healthy and ethically raised.
Since 2008, Urban Agrarian has been building a new system. We built relationships with farmers across Oklahoma, then we opened our own pop-up markets wherever anyone would let us. We offered the best food in Oklahoma directly to consumers and restaurants across Oklahoma City. In 2011 we partnered with Earth Elements Entrepreneurs Kitchen to turn an old warehouse in the historic Oklahoma City Farmers Market District into a food hub and permanent grocery store. Using our certified kitchen, we were able to freeze, can and prepare seasonal produce, allowing us to buy more from local farms, reduce food waste and offer in-demand products.
Today, Urban Agrarian focuses primarily on retail sales out of our two small-scale grocery locations in OKC and Edmond (coming soon). We also offer online pre-orders, and we deliver to a small list of wholesale clients, including the Oklahoma City Thunder. Earth Elements Entrepreneurs Kitchen is in the process of moving to a new and improved facility, giving Urban Agrarian full control of the kitchen so we can spend even more time making magic happen with peak-season produce.
A decade in, here’s what we know: Urban Agrarian has the potential to be an economic driver in Oklahoma’s food and ag community. To date, we have worked with more than 140 Oklahoma farms, ranches and producers and generated more than $3.8 million in revenue. To some, that’s small potatoes, but for those who grow potatoes, it’s big business. Many of the producers we work with tell us that Urban Agrarian is their largest buyer. At this level, we can communicate with growers in advance, letting them know what we will purchase in the coming season and providing them the security to plant more spinach, build another hoop house or invest in more animals. We can also do the same for value-added producers by providing a marketplace for products like kombucha, granola and ice cream.
Our vision for the future of Urban Agrarian includes using our market reach and our infrastructure to expand the range of local products available in Oklahoma, whether that means contracting with a farmer to grow kiwis (yes, they grow here!) or finding the state’s best mozzarella maker and convincing her to set up shop in our certified kitchen. This kind of infrastructure support has proven essential to the development of thriving food systems from Vermont to California—we believe Oklahoma deserves no less.
Building something new hasn’t been easy, but it has been fun, and the potlucks that have occurred along the way have been phenomenal. To all of you who have made Urban Agrarian possible - thank you, thank you, thank you.