A community-supported market…
“Our mission is to operate a year-round community-supported market that provides a viable economic outlet for local food producers while providing consumers access to locally grown agricultural products.”
You may have noticed that a key component in the mission statement for The Wild Ramp is that we are a community-supported market. When the Board of Directors started planning for The Wild Ramp, way back over a year ago, we knew that there was no way we could open a traditional business- with full-time employees staffing the store. If we had to come up with that kind of overhead, 1) we probably wouldn’t be open yet as we would have needed serious investors, and 2) it’s highly unlikely that business model could ever be profitable for the farmers to sell their goods at the market- the only other models we have seen run with volunteers and many of them have community-donated space.
However, we truly believed that the community would value the service The Wild Ramp was offering- not only fresh, local, healthy, tasty food – but also economic development opportunities for the local economy and local farmers. So we moved forward with a non-profit corporation.
What this means in non-legalese speak is that while we sell products, that’s not how The Wild Ramp stays in business. We make barely any money off of the food we sell. Remember, we give 90% of each sale back to our farmer producers, which barely leaves us enough to pay the rent and electrical bills.
So in order to keep the store open and all of our wonderful products available to you, we rely on both our farmers and our volunteers to help run the show! If you’ve been in shopping when a farmer is dropping off product, you may have seen them working around the store, but not understood their exact roles.
Farmers are responsible for pricing their own products (with our pricing labels so it runs through the computer correctly and credits their farm) and putting their goods out on the shelves or in the freezers or refrigerators. They are also responsible for their own signage, telling customers what is for sale and for how much. In that sense, we’re like a traditional farmers’ market.
However, because we’re open more like grocery store hours, there are other tasks, such as restocking from the back or helping to sort and maintain the produce, which the farmers aren’t always around to help with. That’s where our volunteers come into the picture!
Volunteers do a number of important tasks around the store. You’ve probably seen them running the register, but there are lots of other jobs around the market- restocking the shelves, letting the Market Manager know what needs to be reordered, sweeping and mopping the store, helping to put price labels on items that are shipped to the store, putting away produce at night, pulling it back out in the mornings, answering questions from customers, coming up with recipes so people know what to do with unusual produce- the list is really endless! And behind the scenes, there are even more tasks- keeping our databases up-to-date, ordering products as they run low, designing flyers for Wild Ramp events, helping to call other volunteers to make sure the store is staffed, sewing feedsack bags – and more- that list is endless too!
We have estimated that it takes over 300 volunteer hours a month to keep the store open. Would you consider joining The Wild Ramp community-supported market by coming down and volunteering a few hours a month? We need you! Email our Volunteer Coordinator, Cara Bailey, at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more how you can help!