Feature: Prairieland Market: Salina’s Homegrown Haven for Locally Sourced Goodness

Feature: Prairieland Market: Salina’s Homegrown Haven for Locally Sourced Goodness

Written by Jarah Cooper:

Nestled in the heart of Salina, Prairieland Market stands as a beacon of community, sustainability, and locally sourced goodness. Established in 1978, Prairieland Food Cooperative began as a humble endeavor to fulfill the growing demand for organic food in the area. Over the years, it has evolved into a cherished institution, transitioning into a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in February 2022. Today, under the stewardship of dedicated individuals, Prairieland continues its mission of promoting local agriculture and fostering a sense of belonging among its patrons.

Prairieland began as a food-buying club. Longtime member, Barb Goode describes the process, “Once a month, a group would gather to decide what items and how much to purchase from an organic food warehouse. We did not purchase from local farmers at the time. If a person didn't want the minimum quantity of an item, for example all 25 pounds of whole wheat flour, then an "auction" would occur where people shouted out how much of that bag of flour they would take until 25 pounds was reached. Then, 1.5 weeks later, the group met to help unload the truck and repackage the bulk items into the quantities bid on.”

What began as a co-op has transitioned into a full-fledged organic grocery store. In 2016, a multi-farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription program was established to help local farmers sell specialty crops. “Currently, Kansas imports over 90% of the produce we consume. By providing another means to purchase local foods, we hope to educate customers on the importance of buying local food and showing off what amazing food Kansas has to offer.” 

Prior to the CSA subscription, meat was the locally targeted item sold by the co-op board members. The CSA subscription boosted the drive to sell a wider variety of food like meat, eggs, cheeses, and vegetables. CSA subscription boxes feature various vegetables, and member’s can choose from different quantities.

The store manager, Kirsty, reflects on her time as manager sharing her favorite memories of building relationships with local farmers and fostering a sense of community among patrons. Since assuming her role in January 2022, Kirsty has witnessed Prairieland's impact firsthand, serving as a gathering place for those passionate about locally sourced food.

For first-time shoppers, Kirsty envisions Prairieland as more than just a grocery store but as a place of discovery and connection. She hopes that visitors leave with high-quality products and also with a deeper understanding of the importance of supporting local food systems. With a knowledgeable staff ready to answer questions and a diverse selection of locally sourced goods, Prairieland offers an immersive experience for all who walk through its doors.

On the verge of an exciting move to a much larger location to Santa Fe Avenue later this year, Prairieland Market is a local food store dream.

Prairieland Market's Staff Party - Photo by Kirsty Hartley
Prairieland Market's soon-to-be new location - Photo by Jarah Cooper
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