Most Steamboat Islanders know the Summer Fruit Truck. For the past two summers it’s been parked by the Grange where customers enjoy the best of Northwest and more exotic produce. The banana masthead had been hard to miss!
The Fruit Truck is a transformation of the big tent opposite the Island Market where the community first came to know Madrona Grove Seasonal Open-Air Market, and its owners Michael Manos and Jeannine Anderson.
For the past four years, Michael and Jeannine have been using their 1987 Buick Station Wagon, “Roselle,” to do all the hauling of fruit from Eastern Washington. Built to haul families on vacation, Roselle rose to the challenge and has performed an outstanding job, even after a roundtrip of 9000 miles, from Washington to Central America, the year before Madrona Grove was started. All those years, miles and pounds are finally taking their toll, and now Roselle is no longer able to make the long trip over and back across the Cascades. In addition, the weight and capacity of the station wagon proved inadequate even last year as the demand for great fruit steadily increases. This past year the Toyota, the Banana Truck, has had to pick up the slack and pull double duty as “The Fruit Truck” retail outlet, and to make the 20 or so trips over and back with fruit. It’s been a challenge for the truck, and Michael and Jeannine, but they’ve managed to pull it off with a lot of shuffling of stuff and many early mornings and late nights. In this fifth year of operation, it is clear that the business has become a part of the community that would be missed. A bigger, better vehicle is needed to carry on.
Choosing a life of voluntary simplicity, as Michael and Jeannine have done, has meant opting out of eligibility to obtain financing for a new vehicle.
We are proposing to the community and opportunity to “grub stake” a new fruit truck so that Madrona Grove can continue to bring local food to the community on a seasonal basis. The purpose of these community funded micro grants is to “seed” the financing of an economical, flexible vehicle which can transport fruit and produce in the summer, and, in the off season, do small hauling jobs to begin to support itself.
A grub stake was money put up to finance prospectors in their mining operations. In a sense, agriculture is a form of mining. It extracts nutrients from the sun, soil and water and makes the foods that nourish and sustain us. By brining the fruits of many farms to our community, Madrona Grove participates in the mining operation.
Madrona Grove is asking for micro-grants, or “grub-stakes” of $75 to help finance a 2006 Dodge Sprinter Cargo Van. Michael and Jeannine can manage the down payment. Oyster Bay Farm has offered to sign for the financing of the vehicle via a Guarantor’s Agreement on the financing contract (see The Fine Print). We have estimated that if we can get commitments for a $75 grub stake from 110 households, the payments for the first year of the truck’s operation will be covered. After that, we expect the truck to be self-supporting.
In today’s fast paced, instant gratification society, it’s easy to lose track of what it takes to put food on our tables. Few people get the chance to experience a life dedicated to growing food for others, and yet none among us could survive without those few who do. Many farmers don’t have the opportunity or time to sell their food directly to the consumer. By going to the farms to bring back food to our neighborhood, Madrona Grove provides farmers a much-needed market and offers the benefits of:
- Access to the best produce of the summer season.
- Building a sustainable, local economy.
- Supporting small, independent businesses.
- Supporting small family farms.
- Taking part in securing a local food supply.
WHERE TO FOOD COMES FROM
Over the past five years Michael and Jeannine have been developing relationships with small, family farmers living in Eastern Washington where land and climate come together to create a perfect growing environment for those luscious summer fruits we love. They also work directory with several small farms here in Western Washington for farm fresh veggies. Direct sales and sales to small retailers such as Madrona Grove allow these small farmers to keep more of the return on their farming investment than if they sent all of their food to the packing houses. Better for farmers, better for Madrona Grove and its customers.
Some of the farms Madrona Grove works with:
- Schilter Family Farm, Nisqually, WA
- Lopez Farm, Nisqually, WA
- Kirsop Farms, Tumwater, WA
- Edible Acres, Tonasket, WA
- AppleCart Fruit, Tonasket, WA
- River Valley Organics, Tonasket, WA
- Bartella Farms, Omak, WA
- Filaree Farms, Okanagan, WA
- Rest-A-While Orchards, Pateros, WA
- RAMA Farm, Bridgeport, WA
- Fiel Orchards, Wenatchee, WA
- Dick Boushay, Grandview, WA
- Farmland Fruits, Wapato, WA
They also buy produce in season from neighbors here on the peninsula with gardens more bountiful than they can consume.
MICHAEL AND JEANNINE’S COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY
“We will continue to do what we do for as long as we are able; to cooperate with small, family farms to bring their harvest to our community; and to maintain high quality standards at prices that make the food accessible and the business viable.
We recognize that the constant in life is change, so we will have to remain flexible to the tug and shove of the changing commercial and personal landscapes as we work to serve the community in which we live.”
THE FINE PRINT
The Dodge Sprinter is a top-of-the-line Mercedes Diesel vehicle with the Dodge name on it. It’s capable of hauling up to 3800 pounds, averaging 25-30 miles per gallon, depending on the load size. Pioneer Organic in Seattle bought several for their home delivery service, as did Essential Bakery and many other small food related businesses, including Western Meats in Tumwater. Pioneer Organics and Essential Bakery both run their vehicles on bio-diesel. The demand for this vehicle is very high and the manufacturer is preparing to expand their production facilities to meet that demand. There are limited quantities of them available this year, with availability pushed back to March 2007 after those are sold. The resale value of this vehicle is one of the highest in the industry.
All grant funds (grub stakes) will be deposited into the Community Funded Micro-Grant account with Sterling Savings Bank. All grant funds over and above the cost of 1 year’s monthly payments will be applied directly to principal, until such time as the financing is complete. All grant funds over and above the complete cost of financing will remain in the Community Funded Micro-Grant account for future use by other community projects.
A 10% down payment will be made by Michael Manos and Jeannine Anderson dba Madrona Grove, to Lynwood Dodge on a 2006 Sprinter 2500 SHC/140.Pat Labine and Kathleen O’Shaunessy, dba Oyster Bay Farm are guarantors for the financing. A monthly finance payment will be automatically withdrawn by the financing agency from the Community Funded Micro-Grant account.
Copies of the guaranty contract between Madrona Grove and Oyster Bay Ram, as well as the finance contract are available by request.