FRANKLIN — A Franklin family says the pandemic helped them to see that as a society, we don't really know where our food comes from.
"You've got a lot of conveniences," Sarah Campbell, a mother and air traffic controller, said. "But as a result, you lose the connection with your food."
During the pandemic, and even today, we face supply chain issues head-on at the grocery store. Big box chains are sometimes unable to keep cleaning products on store shelves, toilet paper and baby food limited to a certain amount per customer at times, and even the meat counter can be bare.
But Campbell and her husband Corey, who also works as an air traffic controller, wanted to take action to fight back against supply chain troubles.
"Local farmers and bringing things to the community that, you know, Indiana has to offer," Corey said.
The pair continue to work their normal jobs, home-school their kids, run their small farm and now they have taken on a big project: a local grocery start in the heart of downtown Franklin called Field to Fork.
It's a store collecting locally-made products with total transparency for the customer.
"Totally busy," Sarah joked. "We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into."
The pair did their research, began curating locally made products and scouted out real estate for their grocery store dream. They found the perfect spot for a shop in Franklin off Jefferson Street, in sight of the new amphitheater and splash pad.
"The community response that we've gotten has been overwhelmingly positive," Sarah said. "Small business is really something that Franklin values."
And while there are your typical big box stores off U.S. 31 in Franklin, the immediate downtown area has not seen a grocery store in decades.
"I think that we've got like this force field around this downtown part of Franklin where there's like no chains allowed," Sarah said. "Small business is definitely something that's at the center of everything they do here in Franklin."
Loving local is a passion project for the Campbell's. Nearly every item in their store comes from within 150 miles of Franklin, and may items come from producers in Johnson County.
Sarah says that ironically, 60 to 80 percent of the products in their store come from producers who found pandemic passion projects as well.
"I'm really happy that, you know, it was just as time went on we were curating products, I had no idea of all the stuff Indiana had to offer until we started really looking into it," Sarah said.
Inside Field to Fork you will find meat products, milk, dry goods, baby food, coffee, bistro sandwiches, a hydroponic lettuce wall, micro-greens, produce and more.
"It's a year-round farmers market," Corey said. "Other than local farmers markets and stuff like that, local farmers don't really have a place to bring their product in."
Corey says it can be difficult for our local producers, especially when it comes to meat products, to sell their animals here due to regulation and processing, but they connected with Fischer Farms in Jasper where they have found a way to get local products to Hoosiers. The quality of meat available behind the counter is a point of pride for the store owner.
"If you can go to a big box store and you can ask the butcher there, 'Hey where did the animal come from,' and if they can give you that answer, I'll give you a free steak," Corey said.
So far, no one has gotten that free steak. But here at Field to Fork, Corey and their butcher can tell you specifically about the farm and the animals.
"We've met the farmers. We've walked the land with them. We've seen the animals," Corey said.
This month, the Campbells kicked off their meat box subscriptions with free local delivery. They also hope to offer classes on-site for educational opportunities.
They say there is a lot of interest in growing hydroponics, like their lettuce wall inside the store, but they want to connect with the right experts to lead courses.
They also hope to work with educators who can help break the public's associations with labels we see on our food, by explaining the difference being shopping local and shopping organic.
The best way to stay in touch with Field to Fork is through their website FieldtoFork.shop and also on their Facebook and Instagram pages.
Field to Fork is not only open to shoppers, but they have tables for dining inside with bistro sandwiches, coffee, beer, wine and a kids play area.
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