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For Westminster resident Dan Borgman, shopping for locally produced food can be a challenge.
“We want the best for us and our kids,” he said. “If you’re trying to go out and buy local foods right now, you would have to drive all over. With three boys, I can’t do that.”
But Borgman’s problem could be solved if the plan for a Local Foods Campus, which would create an indoor farmers’ market, becomes reality.
“A local campus like this would make healthy eating a lot easier,” Borgman said.
A five-member team of men and women with experience in the natural food industry is working to make local foods more accessible to Westminster residents with the establishment of a Local Foods Campus at the empty Albertsons at 72nd and Sheridan. The campus would eventually include a commercial grade kitchen and packaging centerBut the initial phase calls for an indoor, year-round farmer’s market that supplies only locally grown food.
“We’ve been in the local food space for a long time and have wanted to grow it,” said Nathan Mudd, one of the team members. “But to do that, you need guys who have been around the block.”
The founding members
Which is where the other team members come into play.
Mudd and his wife, Kimberly, have worked with farmers’ markets. Dale Kamibayashi knows the natural food market industry, farmers’ markets and the retail side of products.
John Hay was a co-founder of Celestial Seasonings and worked with other large companies — he brings an understanding of the corporate world.
Vern Tharp helps with capital formation and makes sure all the idea-bouncing and good thoughts get written down in a format others can understand.
Financing the dream
Mudd and Tharp say the group has submitted an application to the Westminster Economic Development Initiative for money from the South Sheridan Urban Renewal Fund, which can provide public tax money to pay for infrastructure.
If approved, Mudd and Tharp said they would use the money for coolers, freezers and everything else needed to make the vacant building usable as an indoor farmers’ market.
John Hall, the city’s economic development director, said he can’t confirm what kind of city funding the team might receive.
“We are in discussion with them now about city assistance,” Hall said, “but it is too early to identify specific funding.”
Westminster, however, definitely supports the idea, Hall said. “Local foods are absolutely something we want to see.”
Tharp and Mudd said they don’t have a specific figure yet on project cost, but are also applying for funds from Colorado Fresh Food Financing and private sources.
Beyond funding, Mudd said the idea would be dead in the water without community support.
The team has attended city council meetings since April and has collected more than 100 signatures of support from community members.The group is eager to fulfill a need the community has expressed – ability for consumers to shop in their neighborhood and have the intimacy of knowing where their food comes from.
“We are specialized—we don’t want to be big, “Tharp said. “We want to be good at what we do.”
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