Fall 2020

Northwest Farm Credit: Rural, Real Estate, Operating Loans; Farm Loans; Country Home Loans; Lot Loans; Equipment Financing; Young and Beginning Producers; Crop Insurance; Business Management Education; Property Appraisals

Issue link: http://digital.nexsitepublishing.com/i/1310698

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Page 7 of 15

7 Northwest Farm Credit Services Northwest Cooperative, LINC Foods, is a worker- and farmer-owned food hub in Spokane representing more than 50 member farms. LINC Foods' wholesale partners include 37 restaurants, six school districts and universities in eastern Washington and northern Idaho, all impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. "Right now, Washington State University isn't buying from us because their dining center is closed," said Dan Jackson, Sales and Procurement Director at LINC Foods. "WSU is our second largest customer. Gonzaga University has been a great partner too, and right now they're only at 60% of normal sales. To support our local farmers, we had to pivot quickly to more direct consumer sales." The cooperative was already providing a farm-to-table subscription for consumers called the LINC Box. Stra- tegically, in their work with wholesale partners, LINC Foods had the technology they needed for customers feature story At the beginning of the season, Merritt, Gretchen and family chose to reduce their farm store hours – down to two days a week – using the extra time to expand the garden. Gretchen took the opportunity to implement a new online ordering system with curbside pickup for people who didn't want to come into the store or shop at a farmers market. "We'd thought about dabbling in online orders and this was a great chance to try it," says Gretchen. "If it didn't work, we could always say it was for the pandemic and go back to the way we were doing things before. But we've seen a lot of growth and we'll probably continue online sales through the winter. With reduced hours our store sales were down, but thanks to extra time spent in the garden, our market sales were up around 25%. We'll take that as a win." Local food cooperatives step up In addition to selling through farmers markets, small producers often distribute through local food hubs. This makes it easy for restaurants, institutions and retail stores to source products from many farms with one point of contact. The Local Inland "We'd thought about dabbling in online orders and this was a great chance to try it," says Gretchen.

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