When Illene Sofranko announced the closing of Urban Canning Company's storefront on Instagram last month, it left followers and pickling enthusiasts devastated.
However, Sofranko doesn’t consider the closing as a bad thing, she sees it as an evolution.
“Throughout the last six years, I’ve been able to figure out what my skill sets are and what I’m amazing at,” Sofranko tells CL.
When it came time to move on from her brick-and-mortar, Sofranko linked up with Brick Street Farms, a local boutique, artisan farm.
“By working closely with Shannon [O’Malley], we found out our skill sets are complementary, so we decided to join forces.”
Sofranko says Brick Street Farms co-owner Shannon O’Malley initially wanted to carry The Urban Canning Co. in her farm market, but when Sofranko went for a farm tour, she knew she there was potential for something more.
“One of the first times I came to deliver [products], I asked for a farm tour and I had this overwhelming feeling that I was in something cool,” Sofranko explains.
The two women developed a friendship that evolved into a partnership. The new duo plan on relaunching The Urban Canning Co. underneath the Brick Street Farms umbrella as Brick Street Canning Company. O’Malley is planning an overall Brick Street Farms expansion, scheduled to debut late 2020, as a “cultivation hub.”
“We’ll be an urban farm centered around all things locally made and handcrafted with food,” O’Malley says.
The expansion includes a two-story, 6,500-square-foot mixed-used food hall, as well as a 2,000-square-foot farm-to-table market filled with fresh garden varieties from Brick Street Farms. Locally made products from meat to dairy will be inside the market too. The space that houses the market is being converted into a commissary kitchen for local entrepreneurs to rent plus it'll be the host for Brick Street Canning Company. A few extra farm containers are being added to service the entire property and events.
“We’ll have a very full event calendar surrounded by food. We’re having pop-up restaurants, food trucks, and private dinner events,” mentions O’Malley.
According to Sofranko, this project is unique and special, “It’s going to be one-of-a-kind; no one else is doing anything like this in the Tampa Bay area. There are people who sell local purveyors within their market but this one is specifically local-only.”
But don’t fret, you can still purchase the remaining stock of The Urban Canning Co. inventory at Brick Street Farms until it’s gone.
“We’ll relaunch with our core products first. One of the things we’re known for is our seasonal launches so that’ll come back,” mentions Sofranko. While adding that she has a few other ideas in store for the future including expanding into making condiments and other spreads.
O’Malley’s mission is to make the cultivation hub a way to make urban agriculture more accessible and impactful.
“This won’t just be a community garden, but something productive. We’ll have the equivalent of 30 acres, or 80,000 pounds, of produce a month. That feeds a small city.”
Brick Street Farms is temporarily relocating to another area off 22nd Ave. S. in south St. Petersburg during the construction period. Construction for the expansion is set to begin in February, and just a heads up, the farm’s retail location will be shutting down, meaning consumers will need to transition into solely shopping online. Once a purchase is made, customers can choose between Brick Street’s Central Avenue or South Tampa pickup locations.
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