Act: Inspiration

Farms for Tomorrow Podcast: Kathy Sample & Bill Brinkerhoff, Argus Farm Stop

February 3, 2022

Next Generation Farmers Market

Argus Farm Stop opened in August of 2014 with a mission to grow the local agricultural economy by creating a year-round market for locally produced foods. Since then, Argus has returned over $10 million in sales revenue to local producers while building a loyal community following.

Argus Farm Stop operates on a consignment basis: Farms retain ownership of store inventory and receive 75 cents of every sales dollar. At the same time, by aggregating goods from over 200 producers, the 7-day storefront offers a wide selection of local products and convenient, one-stop shopping for consumers. Bottom line: both producers and their customers get what they need.

Visitors to Argus Farm Stop will see customers picking up dinner fixings, students and neighbors meeting over coffee, farmers making deliveries, and knowledgeable staff introducing customers to the local food scene. Local fruit and vegetables, dairy, meats, baked goods and even beer and wine make for a full shopping experience.

Argus opened a second Ann Arbor location in 2017, with yet a third location planned for 2022. Argus founders and staff also conduct webinars and trainings on a regular basis for anyone interested in starting a farm stop in their local communities.

About Kathy Sample & Bill Brinkerhoff

With the launch of Argus Farm Stop in 2014, Kathy Sample and Bill Brinkerhoff transformed their passion for local food into a community mission. Having subscribed to CSAs for years, the married co-founders wanted to find a way to strengthen area farms and bring healthy local food to consumers.

Opening the 100% local food storefront in Ann Arbor marked a major career pivot for each of the two co-founders. Kathy came to the project with 25 years’ experience in marketing, strategy, and business planning in the chemical, medical gases, and automotive industries. Bill worked more than 20 years in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, with a focus on new product planning, corporate development, business development and licensing. Both completed MBAs at the University of Michigan, where they met.

Since opening the farm stop, Bill and Kathy have worn every hat and taken on every role in their new enterprise. Over the years they have stepped back to let new leaders emerge among Argus staff, and together opened a second storefront in 2017.

In 2015 the couple purchased Base Lake Farm in Webster Township north of Ann Arbor. The historic 258-acre farm, formerly held by the owners of Carl’s Chop House to supply beef to the longtime Detroit restaurant landmark, now hosts Baseline Farm, a grass-fed beef operation run by farmer John Cox, as well as an Airbnb. They purchased the land to protect it from development via conservation easements, and to keep it in farming.

As of 2021, Kathy and Bill continue active involvement in the operation and growth of Argus Farm Stop. The couple and their team also offer webinars and trainings to help people who are interested in starting a farm stop in their local communities. Kathy and Bill have three children and live in Ann Arbor.

Clifford Dean Scholz

Clifford Dean Scholz is a writer, homegrown food enthusiast, and local food/healthy soils activist and educator living in Michigan. In 2011, Cliff launched the Green Hand Reskilling Initiative and blog. He currently works with and has coordinated multiple soil education events in Michigan for the Bionutrient Food Association. Clifford also blogs at Clifford Dean Scholz's Substack

Tags: building a resilient food and farming system, farmers markets