Well there’s been lots of big news for this section of the 14th St, NW corridor. Last week we learned that Piola Pizzeria was coming to 2208 14th St, NW (just north of W) and now is arguably even better news – Smucker Farms is on its way. Pending proper permits they hope to open in the next month or so and if successful, keep your eyes peeled for more storefronts around the city.
Owner Eric Smucker sends me an email with lots of great info:
Generally, the store will feature directly sourced food and products from Lancaster County, which is of course the heart of Amish and Mennonite Country and has the most fertile non-irrigated soil in North America. The farmers and manufacturers of food in Lancaster have really been stepping it up in quality recently to move beyond “Dutchy” fare, and are providing high-end products that meet the standards of more discerning customers in urban environments. As a result, they are now raising grass fed beef, pasture-raised chickens and eggs, heirloom pork and poultry, artisan cheeses, high quality milks and yogurts, and of course chemical free produce that is already being used widely in mid-Atlantic restaurants. Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. will be providing these foodstuffs along with prepared take-away meals, amazing canned goods, handmade soaps, and some baked goods. There are so many cottage industries in Lancaster County that we are continually finding new products to add to our future inventory. In addition the store will serve as an outlet for handmade wooden toys and furniture, but the furniture will mostly be through direct order through our contacts with Amish furniture makers. We will of course have a Kids’ Corner for the little ones to try out the toys while their parents shop for dinner.
The second aspect of Smucker Farms is that we are serving as the organizer and pick-up point for a Community Supported Agriculture Program run by a small Co-Operative of chemical free farmers in Lancaster. A smaller store such as mine will usually provide fresh produce at a loss because of the immense amount of logistics involved and of course the difficulty in selling produce before it expires. And though we will be keeping some fresh produce in the store for retail sale, the direct connection between the customers and the CSA is the best way for us to make sure that we are not wasting vegetables and leafy greens on a continual basis. It also is the best way to directly support the farmers and encourage them to grow more of what we really love.
The third line of business for Smucker Farms is that we are acting as a sales agent for the aforementioned Co-Op and other small producers to restaurants within the Beltway. We have already begun this on a small scale and have had very positive feedback on our meats and cheeses, and fresh produce will be ready shortly. Some farmers are already adopting greenhouse methods to expand their growing season, and I am currently enjoying some strawberries from one of these growers, they blow away anything you can get from California in terms of freshness, flavor, and overall sweetness. The proximity of this agricultural hub is a boon for us here in the mid-Atlantic, and my company is just trying to expand access to it for everyone.
We are planning on opening at the end of this month and currently processing the paperwork necessary to change our façade and change the usage on our Certificate of Occupancy from services/offices to retail. I have helped start businesses elsewhere but this is my first foray in DC, and although the process may be a bit convoluted it is quite manageable once you have all the pieces together. With that said I am thrilled to get the store open shortly. We are already getting a lot of positive feedback and interest for the CSA and from more restaurants, so I think the business model should serve us very well. And not to get ahead of ourselves because we certainly need to make the first store work, but I have no intentions of only have one storefront in DC. As such I am looking at the process of getting the first one open as a necessary expense for future knowledge of how to best expand our footprint in the DMV.
A little about me, I was born and raised in Lancaster County and grew up Mennonite. Both of my parents grew up on farms and my father was actually raised Amish, and even though he met my Mother and never officially joined the Amish as a baptized member, I have many Amish aunts, uncles and cousins who I was privileged enough to spend time with growing up. Doing chores on an Amish farm as a child is rather amazing to say the least. I first came to DC for school, attending Georgetown for both undergrad and grad and then staying around to work in emerging markets investments. Needless to say I am finding this new path to be amazing and allows me to keep a connection to Lancaster in terms of family and food, while living in the city that I have grown to love.