The next step is to finish estimating what funds we need to raise in order to open the market. We're negotiating use of a wonderful location right now, and figuring out what needs to be done to the site to make it ready is part of the five-year budget we're working on.
After we've finalized the budget, we'll begin the major capital campaign to raise the funds needed to make the market a reality. Our first fundraising goal is the minimum amount ($125,000) that needs to be raised from members and the community in order to apply for grants we've found that support local food economies. The full amount we need to raise is what we've estimated will be needed to run the market for five years. Funds will be raised through memberships, stock sales, community support, and grants.
While we're fundraising, we'll be going through applications from local producers and beginning the on-site visits to farms to certify how food is being produced.
The market will open once we've raised the funds. We'll start very small, with what local food we can source that time of year, plus natural and organic staples from national distributors.
As we progress with adding and vetting local producers, we'll expand the store's inventory with more local food products.
One of the functions we want to perform for local businesses and producers is to act as a food hub for the region. We'll be making connections with local farmers, and we'll be able to connect local food-related businesses (restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, etc.) with local food sources. The target to start the food hub service is six months after the market's storefront has opened.
Approximately a year after opening the market, we'll begin work on building or obtaining a commercial kitchen that will be available for use by co-op members. Having a commercial kitchen available for use will help local cottage food producers make the jump to selling their products in Coteau Community Market, as all value-added products must be produced in a commercial kitchen in order to be sold by someone other than the producer (in this case, in order to be sold by Coteau Community Market).
Attached to the kitchen will be a teaching space, allowing us to expand our outreach by providing classes for community members and producers. Education is a large part of the mission of the co-op, and we need the space to provide that education in.
There's a rural business development grant available that we'll apply for in order to fund the kitchen and teaching space expansion. We'll begin work on that application once the initial capital campaign is finished.