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Bike-powered grocery delivery service aims for major expansion

Posted by on April 1st, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Rolling Oasis, a Lents-based nonprofit that home-delivers $20 worth of organic produce to its customers each week, is angling to leap from Southeast into Northeast, too.

Proprietor Brandon Rhodes launched the service a year ago and has been delivering since then in his own Lents neighborhood ever since, adding extras like coffee and jam for additional fees.

“We want post-retail grocery innovations to be accessible for all of our neighbors, not just those who can afford it,” Rhodes writes in the description of the new Indiegogo campaign Rolling Oasis has launched to complete the expansion. “Alternative delivery services inflate their prices beyond what you’d find at Fred Meyer — leaving tighter-budget households behind.”

Starting with a launch party Thursday night, Rolling Oasis is looking to raise $75,000, enough to create three new Neighborhood Hubs in what it’s referring to as the Sabin-King, Cully and Arleta neighborhoods: basically Northeast Portland from Fremont to Lombard and Williams to Interstate 205, plus Southeast Portland from Powell to the Springwater Corridor and 52nd to 82nd.

southeast neighborhoods

Images from Rolling Oasis. Rhodes, right, is pictured with potential colleagues Amanda Brown and Nestór Campos.

Here’s a useful explanation from the campaign page of how it’d work:

rolling oasis container

It isn’t easy being green, but we’d like to make it easier for 1000 Portland households this year. To do that, we will use the money generated by this campaign to debut three Neighborhood Hubs across Portland.

Each Neighborhood Hub is a complete “business in a box” that creates five jobs and services up to 330 households. It’s a 20′ partially refrigerated shipping container, a next-generation Portland-built cargo tricycle, tons of weather-resistant zip-top bags, and more.

And here’s another interesting passage from the FAQ:

Bikes and organic food — is this just another gentrifying novelty business for white hipsters?

Far from it. Equity is foundational to the good we are delivering. We want affordable access to healthful food to be a reality for all economic classes and neighborhoods in Portland, not just the privileged and otherwise well-to-do. Here’s four ways we’re making justice and equity a nonnegotiable part of our practice.

Through our partnership with Vocoform, for example, at least half of all Produce Pedalers in each Hub will come from underresourced communities.
Keeping prices on par with Fred Meyer lets folks eat healthfully without breaking the bank.

We’ll soon be accepting SNAP/EBT payments.

A breakthrough partnership with the Oregon Food Bank will soon allow us to deliver dry goods for free to all SNAP/EBT-paying customers.
These efforts and others demonstrate that Rolling Oasis Grocers is committed to mending Portland’s racial and class wounds.

All of that would sound great to us even if the company didn’t do all its deliveries by bicycle. Which, come to think of it, it does.

Rolling Oasis’ launch party is 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, at 1805 NE 2nd Ave.

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11 Comments
  • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Wonderful!

    “a next-generation Portland-built cargo tricycle”

    Do I smell a Stites’ Truck Trike, or three?

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  • Patrick April 1, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Bottom line: will the prices be competitive with non-organic options? Organic costs more and delivery costs more, exactly what customers are they catering to? Will this just be delivery to recently moved in non-minorities? Poor folk would rather save money than buy botique produce.

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    • Spiffy April 3, 2015 at 9:20 am

      I care, therefore I use active transportation and buy organic…

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  • gutterbunnybikes April 1, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Why cut it off at Powell? Seems like the South Tabor neighborhood would fit in quite nicely. Nice and flat and easy. Only an extra 2-3 square miles.

    And we have no grocery store at all (though I’ve heard rumors of WinCo moving in at 82nd and Powell.)

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  • Adam H. April 1, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Why organic? Couldn’t they distribute non-organic food and lower the cost even more?

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    • shuppatsu April 2, 2015 at 9:49 am

      I had the same thought and no answers. Possible answers might be: 1) belief that the health/environmental benefits of organic outweigh the price premium over non-organic; and 2) partnerships with organic food providers that traditional providers do not offer, bringing down the price premium.

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  • Patrick Barber April 2, 2015 at 8:10 am

    That’s pretty rad. I wonder if they’ve talked to Zenger Farm, which lies just east of their new Lents terrirory and is actively involved in bringing food equity to their neighborhood.

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  • adam April 2, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Stoked about Laughing Planet’s new bike delivery service too. So many options!

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    • Spiffy April 3, 2015 at 9:26 am

      I’m torn… it seems like a good service, but they don’t even delivery 3 blocks north of half of their “downtown/NW” locations (the 2 non/near Lovejoy)…

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  • Maria April 2, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    I tried it and I liked it! They were flexible with my needs and allowed me to set up “every-other-Thursday” deliveries. Deliveries were fresh and delicious. They listened to my preferences and reacted. They included recipes!

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  • Spiffy April 3, 2015 at 9:21 am

    forgot about this place, just signed up… this will force me to eat a little better…

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