Farm stands operate under honor system
The story is familiar: during the early pandemic, farmers lost access to restaurant sales and other markets. BCS Livestock farmers Casey Smith and Johnnie Duguay-Smith decided to become part of the solution.
BCS founded the Methow Valley FoodShed in the spring of 2020 with just two items — their own lamb and beef — but quickly added three other producers, incorporating milk, eggs and bread into their sales inventory. They sold it the old-fashioned way — off the tailgate of their pickup truck parked at the Winthrop Barn, which facilitated social distancing. They also created an online sales option.
Three years later, FoodShed represents more than 20 local and regional farms, with products available online and at two farm stands, open 24/7 at 521 Highway 20 in Winthrop and at 7 Twin Lakes Road, across from the elementary school.
Through the self-serve honor system, customers can access not just the initial five products, but also other meats like salmon and turkey, vegetables, fruit, ice cream and sorbet, handmade pasta, ready-to-eat meals, cheese and yogurt. FoodShed accepts Venmo, checks and cash (bring exact change). “We trust that customers will respect the hardworking farmers who are selling their products,” Duguay-Smith said.
“It’s going really well so far,” Duguay-Smith continued. “People are very supportive. They’re glad to have another way for community members to support farmers and have access to local food.”
Duguay-Smith calls FoodShed “another one of the ways to source locally and regionally produced food,” referencing other venues like the Methow Valley Farmers Market, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), and direct sales on farms. “Our mission is to build a resilient local food system, and we encourage people to support farmers and buy local food in as many ways as possible,” she said.
In addition to food items from a host of Methow Valley producers, FoodShed offers some products sourced through a partnership with Puget Sound Food Hub Cooperative.
The range of items is always changing, Duguay-Smith said, and sales will continue through the winter. Lately, the FoodShed team has been busy purchasing fall crops from farmers and processing them to have available in different forms in the months outside of the growing season. Currently they’re working with tomatoes and squash, as well as various ground meats, to make into ready-to-eat meals like soups and sauces.
FoodShed has grown its operations through a grant through the Washington State Department of Agriculture, which provided funding for FoodShed’s infrastructure, such as trailers, trucks, refrigerators, freezers, and commercial kitchen equipment. “We couldn’t have done FoodShed without that capital,” Duguay-Smith said.
Smith and Duguay-Smith, who were both born and raised in the Methow Valley and returned as young adults, say they’re “excited to be a part of the food system.” With their FoodShed employees — who they call “a great team” — they’re helping to build a network within the community of farmers and eaters.
For more information about FoodShed, visit www.bcslivestock.com/methow-valley-foodshed.