Farmers markets are a staple of Lewis County. They provide shoppers an opportunity to buy fresh, quality fruits, vegetables and more directly from local farmers.
There’s just one problem — farmers markets aren’t available during the colder months.
One local farmer, Alliyah Perry, decided to do something about this issue. She hopes to open Farm + Flourish within the first few weeks of October.
Perry and her friends and family are finishing renovations for Farm + Flourish, located at 202 S. Tower Ave. in downtown Centralia in the former location of the Santa Lucia Cafe. Aside from new flooring, shelves and coolers for groceries, Perry is putting in a commissary kitchen.
This means farmers will have a commercial kitchen they can use to process and package food for sale at Farm + Flourish and will be able to stock the grocery store’s shelves with their products year-round.
“They bring their stuff in, they store it in the walk-in, I put some stuff out for people to buy, I restock it just like a regular grocery store,” Perry said.
According to Perry, the last major hurdle is getting Washington state Department of Health approval of Farm + Flourish’s commissary kitchen. Once certified, farmers will be able to rent it out.
At farmers markets, farmers can sell food they package and prepare in their homes if they have a cottage food permit, but can only sell directly to customers.
“If you use a certified safe commissary kitchen, then you can sell somewhere like my store,” Perry added.
Having the kitchen in the same location at the store also will save farmers more time and gas.
Aside from fresh fruits and vegetables, the grocery store will also sell local kombucha, matcha, chai, eggs, sauces and more. Other dry grocery items will be available, too, and Farm + Flourish will have coolers for refrigerated groceries.
“I’m hoping to have bulk flour. There’s a place up in Chimacum where they grow and mill their own flour up there,” Perry said. “That way we can have big bins of flour and pasta.”
Being a farmer herself — and also running Green Gardens Farm & Consultation — Perry will be stocking the shelves with a few of her own products as well.
“I’m a produce farmer first. I specialize in nightshades, so heirloom tomatoes, peppers and also garlic. I love garlic. I also grow beans, cucumbers, ground cherries, just all the things,” Perry said.
Like farmers markets, farmers will be able to sell their product directly to customers but won’t be charged a percentage of their profits. Instead, Perry will only charge farmers a small shelf rental fee.
Unlike farmers markets though, Farm + Flourish will allow farmers to sell their products without having to stand around in a booth, saving them time they would lose out in their fields.
And as a gardening consultant, Perry plans on hosting farming workshops at the business, and she won’t be the only one either.
“I’ve got a couple friends too who have said, ‘as soon as you open up I want to do some classes on tea and herbalism,’” Perry said.
Since the location used to be a coffee shop where people could congregate, Perry hopes to keep it that way with locally roasted coffee. She plans for a vegan and vegetarian cafe in the future. Local artists will be able to display and sell their art.
Once Farm + Flourish opens, its hours will be from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
“I’m gonna be closed on Tuesdays and Fridays for the farmers markets, and during the winter too because I need a break,” Perry said. “In December, I’m gonna be open Fridays with the CDA (Centralia Downtown Association) doing ‘Late ‘Til 8.’”
To get in contact with Perry and for more information, visit Farm + Flourish’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61550884063918 or on Instagram.
There’s also a crowdfunding campaign for the business that can be found at https://tinyurl.com/383f5dxa.