Written by Grace Lommel : DEXTER - The exterior work on the Fossa General Store on Main Street is complete now that the deck is done. That was Phase I. Now the inside work (Building Phase II) begins in earnest, thanks to a recently awarded $140,000 grant from the State's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
The interior work needed on the store includes electrical, plumbing, heating, insulation, flooring and sheet rock. Dexter Community Farm Project members are hopeful for a fall opening.
“This new interior grant enables us to be our own general contractor, unlike the $230,000 exterior grant from CDBG which precluded work from local contractors because of high insurance and bonding requirements,” said Judy Wilbur Craig, a volunteer coordinator of the Project. “It's more in line with our goal of fostering the local economy.” The bidding process is expected to begin mid-June.
Dexter Regional Develpment Corportation (DRDC) also received a $40,000 USDA grant for kitchen appliances such as commercial refrigerators, stoves and sinks. A goal of DRDC is to have a licensed commercial kitchen available to be rented out for value-added (processed) products like jams and pickles.
When the interior work is completed and the store opens this fall, another phase of Farm Project's mission to support a new local agricultural economy begins. The Fossa General Store is envisioned as a hub for the sale of products produced within a 35-mile radius of Dexter. These products are as diverse as meat, dairy, vegetables, hay and wood.
“The Fossa General Store is not replacing farmers markets or grocery stores,” Craig said. “We hope to just make it easier for smaller, more diverse farmers who don't have the labor resources to stand at farmers' markets or have the volume required by grocery stores.” The store intends on buying the products and then selling them locally which will eliminate the middle person.
The final phase for the Fossa General Store will be to consolidate the produce of many small farmers for bigger sales to grocery stores, schools and organizations.
But until then, the focus is on Sunday, June 5 when the Fossa General Store will raffle off a chicken coop and two sides of beef, offer tours of the unfinished interior and host its first Sunday afternoon farmers market. Farmers must have liability insurance which Craig says is a usual requirement at farmers’ markets.
For more information, contact Craig at 924-3067 or visit dexterfarmproject.blogspot.com.
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