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Fresno has long enjoyed the reputation of being the bread, fruit, and nut basket of the world, which is why it can be startling to discover the existence of food deserts still in our midst. Food deserts are areas where affordable, healthy produce is scarce. Residents of a food desert might have to travel for miles to come up with a satisfactory head of locally grown lettuce or a bag of, say, Fresno-raised stone fruit.
In an effort to eradicate these food deserts from our fair region and bring farm-fresh organic produce into the hands of local residents at fair prices, Food Commons Fresno was established in 2015. Committed to supporting organic and sustainable farming practices, fostering employment diversity, and empowering small-scale farmers, as well as creating value for customers, Food Commons Fresno was founded on principles set forth by national non-profit organization The Food Commons, whose vision is “to create an economically thriving business that brings food, health, employment, and social and economic justice to a community.”
Since then, Food Commons Fresno has succeeded in enacting the first phase of its plan, launching Ooooby (Out of Our Own Backyards), a subscription-based farm-to-home local produce box that can be either picked up or delivered to one’s door. By partnering with local farms such as Tower Urban Family Farms and the TD Willey Farm, whose CSA (community supported agriculture) business it acquired and converted into Ooooby, Food Commons Fresno has been able to rapidly expand its customer base.
Direct Public Offering announced
But that’s just the beginning of its far-reaching plan to reshape the valley’s agri-business model. Food Commons Fresno also aims to connect local organic farmers to local shops and restaurants that would in turn supply fresh organic produce to the community; and moreover, it would facilitate the creation and aid the development of new businesses that would do the same. And so, to these ends, it has established a wholesale processing and distribution hub where produce from trusted farmers is collected then marketed directly to participating restaurants and institutions. In addition, Food Commons Fresno last year converted a second facility, on Belmont, into a commissary kitchen to be used by food trucks and bicycle food cart vendors.
After years of laying this groundwork, Food Commons Fresno is hoping you’ll come on board with its mission of promoting “health, equity, stewardship and economic development” in Fresno and throughout the San Joaquin Valley, “while making fresh, local produce both accessible and affordable” for area residents. It’s just announced a state-approved Direct Public Offering that will allow local residents to invest in the company and, in turn, permit Food Commons Fresno to raise funds for the next stages of its development, which include the launch of its first retail market, as well as the purchase of additional farmland.
Open house for investors held Jan. 30
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Ooooby Fresno and Food Commons Fresno will host an open house designed specifically to attract local investors into the pool of its newly announced DPO. You’re invited to come hear all the details of the offer and how you can participate. The open house is happening at 202 Van Ness Ave. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.