It’s not expected to open until the fall, but plans for the Portland Food Co-Op seem to be moving forward at a rapid pace. The co-op already has nearly 1200 member-owners and has now given us an idea of what the full-service grocery store will look like. Designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects with input from members, the 5,000 square foot store at 290 Congress St. will have sections for produce, meat, bulk, and frozen foods, as well as home products, ready-made items, a kitchen, and cafe seating. A big plus for the neighborhood: the tired and lonely Rite Aid shopping center will be getting a welcome upgrade.
“What we heard from the co-op’s member-owners was the desire to have a store that clearly connected to the Maine farms and producers it would support. From that, we worked to incorporate the values, materials and colors of the Maine agricultural experience while still creating a space that feels new, clean and modern, since this is also a store located in the heart of Maine’s largest city,” said Robin Tannenbaum of Kaplan Thompson Architects in a press release. “Put another way, we tried to amend the popular farm to table phrase to be ‘farm to community to table,’ where the co-op is the community that acts as the bridge.”
Membership in the Portland Food Co-Op is $100 — a one-time cost — and there are payment plans.
On Wednesday, March 19, from 6 to 9 p.m., the Co-Op will host a free event at Space Gallery for the public to learn more about how the concept works and encourage more members to sign up. Local Sprouts will provide the refreshments, there will be a cash bar and a screening of “Food for Change,” a documentary about the power of co-ops to create social and economic change.