Agricultural cooperatives are not a new concept as producers have always looked to find an easier way to get their products to the market. However the benefits, for most farmers, goes beyond just finding a bigger customer base. Cooperatives give farmers and producers access to a network of knowledge, secure distribution and drive supply costs down amongst others.
The Food Hub
At Coho Restaurant and the San Juan Island Inn Collection, we are constantly looking to source the freshest ingredients our region has to offer. With a regularly changing Chef’s Tasting Menu and an already hyper-seasonal menu it helps to have access to an organization like the Puget Sound Food Hub which acts as a gateway to farms throughout the Skagit Valley. The Puget Sound Food Hub started in late 2010 as a weekly wholesale market in a parking lot underpass of the Skagit Valley Food Co-op. At that point it was more like planting a seed than harvesting an entire crop. Their website describes the early days as a very simple process. No streamlined payment methods, no cold storage, no online ordering, no aggregated delivery method and no way to measure success.
They are now a thriving multi-farmer owned cooperative. They distribute locally produced food from sustainable farms to restaurants, schools, hospitals and more. As they continue to grow they maintain a seller eligibility requirements and high quality standards.
Knowing our Farmers
Another feature we value at Coho Restaurant is the ability to get to know the farmer. We wish it was possible to visit every farm we can. Luckily with the Puget Sound Food Hub’s purchasing portal, virtually visit and read each farms story. Whether it is Hedlin Family Farms in Mt. Vernon or Cascadia Mushrooms in Bellingham, having the transparency to see where and who the products come from is something we look to highlight.