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A question about local regulations for those who operate farms or gardens and try to sell some produce:

I've been wondering to myself if an opportunity for chain or individual gasoline station operators, perhaps along with converting over to electric vehicle charge stations, might be to start selling locally-grown produce at their stores. I've never grown or sold produce though, and I'm wondering what sort of regulations are typically in the US and abroad as to producing and selling food at that level.

Yes, I know the present status of many gas station convenience stores is that the "food" they sell is a lot of artificial non-nutritious nonsense, but I'm not trying to suggest an extended conversation about that negative side of things.

kmaz 7 Aug 7
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Long ago and far away I knew folks in the east SF bay area who sold grab and eat wraps at convenience stores--organic produce and they cultured their own tempeh. I was a commercial organic grower for 20 years. You either have to have a dandy marketing hook such as getting a good CSA going, get lots of free or cheap labor from apprentices or you need to do value added stuff--like these wraps. A good farmers market works too. And you have to dance with your market a lot. When the USDA seized control of organic certification, the two main differences were that they lowered the standards in most ways so that it was easier for large growers to sell to walmart, and they shifted from checking drift from neighboring standard farms to a setback requirement that resulted in medium/small sized organic farms not being able to label organic anything from a good hunk of their land. So, something like a 20 acre organic farm that mostly grew for the wholesale market was no longer possible.

DavidDuhon Level 7 Nov 13, 2019

Hey, thanks for this very informative reply.

0

for what its worth, some feedback I got from a guy I know on another board:

-------------------begin quote-------------

I'll just offer my two cents as usual...if anyone else wants to add a comment great.

Over the years I'm been acquainted with a few producers that had stalls at farmers markets.
They would pay for their tables and sell their products every week end. As well there were a few actual farmers I would deal with for donations of excess produce for the food bank I managed for several years. Since then, a few have sold their land or retired.
A couple of others have gotten really big and supply the major chains.
They have had to compete with huge food importers that have had long term contracts with the majors for decades but they succeeded by offering local quality product, good pricing and the volume to meet orders.
That is part of the key to be able to supply large volumes of produce consistently to the majors for them to even take them seriously. They still have to pay for shelf space and all the associated costs, shipping,
stocking etc and had to synchronize their inventory/data/software system with the majors.
Bottom line is it's a brutal business and cost big bucks to be able to even compete. The few remaining and widely scattered
"mom+pop" operations would kill for an innovative joint venture with major gas retailers but it would really take a lot of marketing+serious promotion to get something like this off the ground.
For instance who in their right mind would think, currently of going to a gas station to pick up their salad greens?
I know where you are going with this.
As a hypothetical owner of a gas station that over the next decades see their revenue dropping as EV's and
hybrids become the norm, how do they revitalize their business and create additional revenues? After all most stations are independent franchisers of of the dominate fossil fuel suppliers.
First, I would hope that they would increase their (as you put it "paraphrased" garbage food) selection
to better quality options, add EV charging hubs, an adjacent outdoor/sheltered dining area for their ready to eat
snacks... perhaps a few pick nick tables and a greener ambiance (with lots of trees...lol ) near by.
If they had the where with all, they might even offer/build or create an association with established nearby motel/lodging for travelers, tuckered out needing a break and an over night charge.
Perhaps cooperate with a major restaurant chain for breakfast dining.
Most gas chains became defacto corner stores years ago so it's possible that they would be open to collaborating with local growers for them to be able to offer their produce at charge/fuel locations but again it's got a lot to do with public perceptions and produce turn over. Stuff has to be super fresh and no one waiting for a charge is going to stock up on wilted lettuce or a bag of soft sprouting potatoes when they can stop off at a Walmart or whatever on the way home.
Perhaps a good approach is to have cooperation with a produce stall/farmer close by but on the same lot,
This could be a good start and easier to set up with smaller independent suppliers that believe it or not are still around.
Plant the seed of that cooperation and if it takes off the major gas retailers would jump on board.
--------------end quote--------------

kmaz Level 7 Aug 12, 2019
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I have experience with town/city code requirements, and USDA requirements ,,yet I don’t quite understand what specific information you are needing.
Is your goal to have a convenience store with vehicular fuel (gas and/or electric) and locally produced foods?

Starving Artist: "....I have experience with town/city code requirements, and USDA requirements ..."

KMAZ - That sounds promising.

Starving Artist: "...yet I don’t quite understand what specific information you are needing.
Is your goal to have a convenience store with vehicular fuel (gas and/or electric) and locally produced foods?..."

KMAZ:

You've described it pretty well. A bit more in-depth: I'm after more than one angle here, simultaneously

a) When discussing with a gas station owner (or chain operator) I want to have more constructive and potentially profitable actions to suggest to them than focusing on changing out gasoline pumps for electric vehicle charge stations. Noting also that we've all seen so much non-nutritious nonsense for sale at gas station convenience stores that this would seem to represent an opportunity for a profit-seeking station owner that might want to see if selling more nutritious food could be of value to their customers.

b) When thinking about (or working within) global and local sustainability, in general, I'm wondering more and more if food that is specifically locally-grown could figure into a revision in the traditional/established gasoline station paradigm, and benefit not only the station owner and their customers, but perhaps a wide swathe of local citizens who could sell their locally-grown or raised food at the station.

c) I haven't much mentioned renewably-derived liquid fuels as much of my focus is on a 100% BEV world, but I suppose the renewable fuel angle could be brought back into play to some extent, as long as it's low- or zero-carbon.

d) edit to add: yes, I suppose there is the possibility that I myself one day could own a station (or sell the contents of a garden) but it's kind of really just a background thought for me on this.

@kmaz
Okay Gotcha!!
Yes, I agree about the BS called “food’ , that is sold in most convenient stores(and grocery stores) ,,,a more nutritional option is desirable,,,based on market research, I have in this sector.
Large food corporations are currently gathering data and researching local supply chain structure and options as e commerce is killing the big box, so they will be your competition in this small store market sector.

USDA guidelines and reg’s are causing some feasibility issues for small scale producers,,,Big Corp has lobbied USDA guideline changes,, just to make it damn hard or shut out the little guys.
I would suggest you first go to USDA.gov to research your cost associated with your business strategy for selling produce. (Grocery store and or food handling guidelines).
I have a friend who currently owns a mid size grocery store and wants to buy and sale local produce,,,USDA is their hurdle,,,,they are currently looking for loop holes for this to be structured feasible.

Currently EV quick charging stations are time sensitive,,,so best located where you can keep a customer occupied for at least 15 min. And they are popping up everywhere,, except I have yet to see one at a gas station.

@StarvingArtist

Thanks much for the answers.

regarding e-commerce, yes. I have said a few times, over the last few years, that at times it seems to me part of the transformation of the transportation sector is we are moving toward a lot of the world functioning as one big dumbwaiter.

At the same time, in terms of removing much of the work of getting to places, and to food, I fear sometimes that this is where I, and some others, are headed:

Getting back more to the point, most of this for me is about industry analysis, and not about the possibility I would personally be involved in this part of the business (though it's not out of the question). With that in mind, I think:

  • while a gas station, or chain of gas stations, may benefit by keeping in mind the shift to selling a greater percentage of healthier food (fresh produce, etc.), this does not necessarily mean organic, nor necessarily locally grown, nor necessarily down to the backyard farmer's market contributor. So, there would be more than one thing for a chain store operator to look at there. It does make me wonder though about small and tiny growers banding together, and whether the buyers could play a role in helping them by "meeting them halfway".

  • your comments about USDA and big co lobbying of them confirm my concerns and are to the point of a lot of what I was asking. Part of my point here about "meeting the little guys halfway" is that if an oil company was really looking for a PR win, along with potential future profit streams, it might be at least worth a nearly-free look at whether and how and to what extent they might want to involve themselves in various agriculture and food distribution issues, including the question of overcoming antiquated anti-small-grower rules and regs.

  • regarding the time sensitivity of EV charging, it is to me not an entirely short discussion, but yes, there are a lot of considerations there in terms of space, traffic flow, time, types of charge station, costs of different charge stations, and which ones will actually be used by drivers at which types of locations. It is worth saying even if most know this by now - charge stations so far absolutely should not be viewed as identical to gas pumps in how they fit in to the overall flow of a driver. Most charging, for many drivers, is at home, and below 10 kW, or even 1-3 kW, is perfectly adequate for some drivers in thoe cases. Between cities there is still a need to go as fast as possible, but fast these days may still be in the range of 30 to 60 minutes or a bit more. Yes, faster charging than that is just about here, but it will take some years before many vehicles and stations are both deployed that 20 minutes or under charging would be common.

Faster (DC, higher Voltage) types of charge stations may be an order of magnitude more money to install than the slower lower voltage ones that take hours.

It's possible in the end that many/some of the old style gas stations may not function well as places for EV charge stations, but we'll see. AT the same time, I've kind of enjoyed watching Walmart and such branch out into EV charge stations. If brick-and-mortar retail is in some ways changing, in some ways dying, then what to do with those parking lots? It seems at least worth trying to task portions of them over to public charging. Perhaps it will work out to get some use and be of some value in some instances.

@StarvingArtist

regarding seeing EV charge stations at gas stations

  • I think the situation may be somewhat different outside the US (perhaps more common for EV charge stations to be popping up at gas stations). Example:

[electrive.com]
Jun 29, 2018 - 11:32 pm
IONITY to set up charging at 80 German gas stations

  • In the US, I don't really have a sense of how common it is, but it certainly does happen. I've charged at 3 gasoline stations I can think of that had L2 or DCQC, and that's just in my area. The only one that remains from the early sparse business days of EVs is here (and that one has had its share of charging issues).
    [plugshare.com]

With all that said, for me a way to envision how some of the smaller incumbent gas stations may or may not lend themselves to DC fast charge stations is to look at how bespoke DC fast station locations are set up under Tesla (Superchargers) or others (FastNed, for example). I don't know much about this in a first-hand way, but it's just my impression that to some extent, in starting with a clean sheet of paper, they have a different traffic flow, and so-on. As well, I think it does come up to review the needs and spending of drivers while they are waiting, including bathroom, restaurant, convenience items, etc.

@kmaz
You may know more than I about charger locations. I am working on a new community plan and just have info for installation clearances for the Tesla quick charge,,my consultant an MEP engineer is taking care of technical requirements and I am locating them at various locations throughout the community.
The video was phat!! Lol
Oh and also,, have designed location to have 3 to 5 acres for (produce) farming, farm to table, and to supply a community store and restaurants. Not sure I have allowed enough space,,, so I am looking for a produce farmer to consultant.

@StarvingArtist

Well, that is a really interesting project you're working on.

@kmaz
Yes it is,,,and I am having lots of fun creating it also

@StarvingArtist

I work in the area of electric vehicles and also tend to make a bit of a nuisance of myself locally with the EV Association and advocating for charge stations, so I ending up talking about this stuff a lot. Here is a short version of some of my views on station location and equipment, for what it's worth. I don't know your location (how urban or rural, whether it is along a route between cities, etc.) nor what you're going for, so instead of trying to tailor it to your situation, I'm just going to try to write down a few basics:

  • It's basic stuff (I don't mean to insult anyone who knows this) but worth saying for those who may not know it - EV charge stations should most definitely not be thought of as one-for-one equivalents to gas pumps. While they may have some similarities (and the starting ideas of this thread may appear on the face of it to belie my point here) there are some critical differences. The top difference is that for many drivers, whether BEV or PHEV, the vast majority (or all) of charging is at home, at night. Some drivers never use public stations, some seldom use them. Other drivers may indeed want or need them. Yes, as more and more EVs hit the road (and the trend continues apace toward that), and more and more are longer-range EVs getting rid of the nonsense myth that the technology is inherently suitable only for around-town driving, public stations may well get more and more use, and are more needed. Further, as faster stations are invented, to a degree, there is a case that some of the fastest ones are edging closer to functioning similarly for long-distance drivers as gas pumps. Still, I do want to get across that part of the beauty of driving an EV is "refueling" at home and not having to bother about any sort of public station.

  • Level 2 outdoor-suitable public stations: Equipment and installation may still total in the thousands of dollars, particularly if you get one of the fancier networked stations (and in those cases you may also be setting yourself up for a bit of telecom monthly overhead cost, though monthly expenses will depend on your exact plan I guess). Equipment prices have come down a lot. Installation is still going to cost you.

  • It is ok (or arguably even a good idea) in some cases to install a public station that is non-networked and save money (I've done it). I have a theory that to an extent (though not a perfect comparison) the early days of EV stations in some areas are somewhat comparable to the early days of public wifi at cafes and airports and such, where there was a lot of hand-wringing over whether it should be free. In the end, I think that worked out to be case-by-case, and I think to a degree that is how it is sort of playing out with L2 charging

  • Electricity costs for L2 - case by case, but in lightly used L2 charge stations the final amounts are sometimes less than may be feared by those considering installing them.

  • DCFC - these are the fast ones (~20-60 minutes for a decent percent charge) .... a whole other ballgame - per station installation and equipment can be low five figures and on up, perhaps into six figures, depending.

  • A lot of useful research can be done on plugshare.com without spending money (other than one's time).... just seeing how drivers use different stations, how equipment does not always function the way it should, .... how certain networks may be more responsive to driver issues than other networks, etc....I do recommend checking out the dots on the map in your area, and/or networking with members of your local electric vehicle association, though I also recommend developing and keeping your own counsel. Just because people drive EVs or study them - this doeesn't make them right or even mean they know what they want or need for sure.
    Again - you may already know all or much of this, but just writing it out as a general commentary then, for whomever may find it useful.

  • Local vehicle dealers in some cases are reluctant to into and sell EVs if the good long-range BEVS are simply not widely and readily available from their provider (very common for these not to be available outside of certain areas) or when they consider the costs of fitting their dealership to sell the vehicles. I keep this in mind... it is frustrating, but helps me understand why things seem to be taking a long time.

  • Pet peeve - I'm not sure if many people are widely discussing this, but in locations that get hot and sunny, an awning or shade may help a lot to help preserve the equipment (and the vehicle if the shade can be extended to it). Here in Arizona, it is common to run into public stations with unreadable screens. It is not proven that the sun messes up stations that are not shaded, but I wouldn't install other electronic equipment out in the sun in Arizona without shade and so it is useful to have shade in my view for the stations. For the cars, in Arizona there was a lot of discussion of battery degradation and in which gen1 Evs it was the worst. I don't think all of that will be fully worked out for years, or decades, but in the meantime, if I can find a station with shade, I'll take it over a station that is out in the sun.

  • There are poor-man's solutions for communities or businesses that want to consider offering charging, but don't want to be talked into spending thousands of dollars. They include just offering letting drivers know (via plugshare, etc.) that it is ok to use certain plugs if they want. This can be an existing 120 Volt plug or even a NEMA 14-50 240 Volt plug, ... something that we can see is common on plugshare.com This is not at all a perfect solution, but it has the advantage of allowing some providers to try allowing EVs to charge without spending thousands of dollars.

  • In my view, local hotels are good locations either for enabling plugs, for spending money on proper J-plug L2, or for getting into a "free" program, if it can be found. There's a reason there are a lot of Tesla destination stations at hotels around the US.

  • I've had good luck with American-made non-networked Clipper Creek L2 stations. They're not pretty, but two of them have held up for me so far. As in any industry, I guess there are a few other manufacturers that seem to have earned early-days good reputations.

  • I think there are a lot of differences between urban considerations and rural considerations, both on the vehicle side, and a few differences on the charge station side. This is kind of not as widely discussed within EV circles as I think maybe it should be. I don't think there has been a huge amount written yet as to the rural or semi-rural side of things. There is various intertwined factors to that conversation, including that many rural vehicle dealers are not yet offering EVs, and if there are very few EVs in one's community, then it is hard (or impossible) to expend a lot of money on charge stations, and can be a horrible idea. One of the things that I was most proud of in my own county is that when I started agitating for stations I did point out that a worst case scenario would be that people would listen to me too much, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the stations would sit unused for years and be a black eye to the effort to advocate for lower-carbon transport in the area.

  • One of the successes I've really enjoyed was at the airport there has been one long-term private parking lot that listened and let us use their 120 Volt plugs. This is excellent and over time has gathered some momentum. I see more and more EVs making use of this at that lot, over the last year or two. One of the local association drivers recently gave me a welcome kudo for helping to stump for this. The thing is, some folks may see that and think that 120 Volts is lame or that we must insist on proper J1772 plugs. As to 120 Volts being lame..... I think for some purposes it is just what the doctor ordered..... there is no good reason to ask a lot owner to provide a more expensive 240 Volt plug if you are not going to be back for one or more days. It is relatively affordable for the site owner to just provide a conventional 120 Volt plug, or provide a more expensive J-plug (which I think indeed is more appropriate for a quality business, ..... at least once they see the demand is there).
    As to J-Plugs, I do think there is an uncomfortable compromise there with J-plugs not being provided, but again, beggars cannot be choosers and I think over time the site owner will upgrade.

@kmaz
Wow,,,thanks for taking time to give so much information,,I’ll share it with my group!! Cheers to you!!

@StarvingArtist

You're welcome.