Five years ago a group of friends sat on a porch , dreaming of a food system that worked better for themselves, their families, and their community. They imagined having access to food grown by farmers sharing their same area code. Living in a region where fertile farmland is plentiful–drive just 10 minutes from downtown in any direction and look around–these dreams weren’t so farfetched.
Though not impossible, a reimagined food system takes more than desire, it takes a lot of hard work. It takes a community. It takes cooperation.
Through several incarnations and the support of hundreds, Purple Porch Co-op grew from a conversation on a purple porch to a bricks and mortar grocery store open 6 days a week (Monday-Saturday, 8am-7pm) in downtown South Bend’s East Bank Village.
Open for nearly seven months in this new location at 123 N. Hill St., the store has flourished into a local food hub supplying local and organic food to the community. But you might ask, and people have asked, “after six months of operation, why throw a ‘Grand Opening’?”
Here’s my explanation.
In days long past, when mom-and-pop shops were the norm and mechanized chain giants were just entering our view on the distant horizon, a grand-opening six months in wasn’t so “avant garde”. This has been a grassroots endeavor. We’re learning as we go, as we always have. We’re becoming more efficient, our supply streams stronger. When 123 N. Hill opened we worked with 13 local producers (within 60 miles of our store), we now work with over 50! We’re learning to be storekeeps, something none of us were before February 25th.
So this Grand Opening at its very core isn’t about opening for us, it’s about gratitude. It’s a grand thank you. A thank you to our member-owners and customers who frequent our store, cafe, and market, to our neighbors and community, but most of all, to those who keep our dream seated in reality…Our Farmers.
For if it weren’t for them, our ever-growing network of food producers (of course the pun was intended) that stock our shelves with unique, flavor-focused food, we’d still be a dream, a vision of what could be.
So come check out our store. Mingle with the farmers, the bread bakers, the kombucha makers. Grab some kale that has a story and face to go along with it, that has character. Enjoy the sounds of local musicians, young and old, as you feast on the flavors of your home. Come see why I and 500 other ‘Benders own a grocery store with their friends. And while you’re here, perhaps sitting on our porch, dream of a city, of the world you want to help shape.
September 17th, 10:30am – Ribbon cutting with DTSB. Be part of this historic moment!
September 17th, 5pm-8:30pm – Farmers Market, live music by Captain Ed Bennett and His N’er Do Wells and Phineas Gage Band, free food samples from our cafe, games in the open to people parking lot (closed to cars), words from member-owners, farmers, and food producers, the premier of our promotional video by Chuck Fry
Our first annual Glorious Gazpacho Contest will also take place this evening. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1553096438245238/
Photos by Myles Robertson
Purple Porch Co-op, purpleporchcoop.com
Myles is the local foods purchaser for Purple Porch Co-op and can be found working the front counter, checking customers out, stocking shelves, and on farms learning about the food we eat and the farmers growing it. Want more local food in your restaurant, at your event, or in your home? Stop by the store or email Myles at firstname.lastname@example.org