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Acme Farms + Kitchen opening new space

Oct 6th, 2012 | Category: Farms, Food

Plans include expanded service to Anacortes, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley

by Jessica Harbert

The idea of a box of fresh, local products appearing on your doorstep once a week, complete with recipes and meal plan guide, is something Joy Rubey and Cara Piscitello, the founders of Acme Farms + Kitchen, wanted for themselves. This service, based in Whatcom County, is meant to bring awareness of where food comes from and how it gets to your table, while helping to prepare a healthy, local meal with added convenience.

Currently Acme F+K fills 300 orders a week with an average of four meals per person. Based on those numbers, Acme F+K will deliver 1,200 meals a week, up to 60,000 local meals a year. Having celebrated their one year anniversary in June, the company plans to expand distribution this fall to include Skagit County, starting with Anacortes, Sedro Woolley and Mt. Vernon.

Diverse meals include this 10-minute dish of Smoked Salmon Alfredo (left), made of Bellingham Pasta Company Penne and Alfredo, Lummi Island Wild and Breadfarm focaccia. COURTESY PHOTO

Acme F+K founders Piscitello and Rubey are both mothers and architects, leading busy lives and working to find a way to simplify their days with accessible and local cooking options.

“The system is very flexible. It can work for single people, families with five or six people or houses of college kids,” Piscitello said. “It eliminates a lot of non-hands on time,” she added.

The boxes include everything from meat, cheese and produce, to pasta, fish, bread and eggs. A small box includes four meals and a large five meals, complete with recipes and meal plans. There are also varieties of boxes for different preferences, including vegetarian, Paleo, dairy free, gluten free, seafood and meat options, with almost all the required ingredients included.

“If a recipe calls for three carrots, we give you three carrots,” Rubey said.

Customers have different reasons for joining, they said. A big factor is driving local economy, as well as fresh ingredients and minimizing waste. In the end, the intention behind Acme F+K is taking the time to enjoy a real meal, they said.

“I think people come at it from different angles,” Piscitello said.  “Some like time saving, some like local and to support local.”

“{We want to} help make local food more accessible,” Rubey said. “We are working to create a system that works for consumers and benefits local food. It’s insane how far your local dollar will go.”

Zucchini and swiss chard tart. COURTESY PHOTO

Acme F+K has been refurbishing a new space in downtown Bellingham at the old Dahlquist Building at 1313 N. State Street, and will be open soon. The location will provide room to grow and facilitate distribution in a central location, along with having access to 1,600 square feet of kitchen space. Until the new space opens, all the behind the scenes “magic” – including sorting food and packaging everything for distribution – is done at an old church property in Acme that was acquired by the company.  Acme F+K also owns 115 acres of land in the Acme area, with much of the produce grown by Billy Tate of Moondance Farm. The land includes room for a herd of 27 bison, 10 acres of produce, 90 fruit trees, three green houses and blueberry bushes.

In additon, Acme F+K wants to establish Acme Foodworks, essentially a local food center within the new space. Acme F+K will be the main tenant, sharing the area with other food-based tenants, such as Dashi Noodle Bar, which will open soon. The center will also offer cooking classes and a commissary kitchen available for community use. They are pre-selling cooking classes and kitchen time on a website to raise money for equipment and permits required for the kitchen.

“It is all community supported, so when we get there we get there,” Rubey said.

Co-founders Joy Rubey and Cara Piscitello at their new space under way in the Dahlquist Building in downtown Bellingham. PHOTO BY JESSICA HARBERT

Piscitello and Rubey said educating the consumer to understand seasonal produce is an interesting aspect of the business, considering items like fresh tomatoes are available at the grocery store year round.

“We are still getting connected to farm, getting into seasonality.” Piscitello said. “There is a learning curve.”

For example, before starting Acme F+K, Piscitello said she would never buy frozen meat. However, all the beef, pork and chicken products distributed to members are frozen because there is no continual supply of fresh meat.

“You can learn that food is this natural thing, not this factory product,” Piscitello said. “There is a finite amount of food and it is very susceptible to nature, because it’s fresh. There isn’t a warehouse like Amazon.”

There is a membership fee to join and boxes range in price from $57 to $79, with a weekly minimum order amount to ensure a certain level of commitment from members. Users are also able to order specific meal kits and other food options each week. The season typically runs through late November.

For more information, visit acmefarmsandkitchen.com.

Local Providers

Approximately 30 local food growers and producers are featured in Acme Farm + Kitchen meals including: Bellewood Acres, Bellingham Pasta Company, Breadfarm, Fresh Breeze Organic, Hedlin’s Farm, Heritage Lane, Lummi Island Wild, Gothberg Farms, Hopewell Farm, Mama’s Garden, Osprey Hill Farm, Growing Washington, Hopewell Farm, Moondance Farm, Fat Pig Farm, Red Barn Lavender, Skagit Angus Beef and Samish Bay Cheese.

Published in the October 2012 issue of Grow Northwest

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