In the Market for Freshness

 

Written by Lea Terry in the December 2018 Issue

urban agrarian

At Urban Agrarian’s new Edmond store, shoppers can browse a wide selection of locally produced fruits, vegetables, meat and other foods, and even pick up a salad or a cooked chicken on their way home from work. It’s part of the store’s strategy for increasing options for both consumers and the merchants the store buys from.

“We’re trying to build our local food economy first, but we also believe strongly in environmental sustainability and the ethical treatment of animals, so our standards prioritize those practices,” said Urban Agrarian co-owner Chelsey Simpson. Urban Agrarian opened its Edmond location at the end of October, and has seen a “tremendous response” from the local community, Simpson said.

Jayne Benkendorf, co-owner of BF Farms, says one of the benefits of working with Urban Agrarian is that the store understands how the goods are made. They also have a direct line to customers that provides local producers a place to sell their goods on a more continual basis instead of the one or two days a week and few months out of the year offered by farmer’s markets. Benkendorf’s company supplies Urban Agrarian with beef and lamb, and she said she’s seeing an increase in the number of consumers seeking out locally produced food. “I think people just really want to know where their food comes from and how it’s made,” Benkendorf said.

Urban Agrarian got its start in 2008 with several pop-up markets around the OKC metro area before opening up a permanent location in 2011. The store quickly became an important part of the Oklahoma City culinary scene and the city’s Farmer’s Market District. However, it nearly shut down two yearsago thanks to a downturn in the economy and aging equipment that needed to be replaced. Owner and founder Matt Burch announced the news on social media, generating an outpouring of support. Jill Castilla, president and CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond, saw the announcement and asked Urban Agrarian to serve as a cornerstone for the bank’s new Vault 405 coworking space in downtown Edmond. This enabled the store to secure the funding it needed to continue in business. “We knew that Edmond really loved to support good food and local food so we thought it would be a great place for Urban Agrarian to grow,” Simpson said.

With its Edmond store, Urban Agrarian added a butcher counter and hot, prepared food options ranging from roast chicken to a wide selection of vegetable side dishes.

“We really want our Edmond location to be a place where people can come in for lunch and also swing by on their way home to pick up something for dinner,” Simpson said. Customers can also order online from an email the store sends out each week, and then pick up their items at one of the store’s locations.

Urban Agrarian works with approximately 50 local merchants at any given time, Simpson said, and she stressed that it’s not just a specialty store. “We’re really lucky to live in a state where a wide variety of things can be grown and raised year-round and that gives us access to almost all of the same food that you would find in a regular grocery store,” she said.

Urban Agrarian is located at 1 E. Main St. in downtown Edmond. For more information, visit www.urbanagrarian.com.

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